To call a bad picture by its name. Film criticism in two Dutch newspapers 1910-1922The period before L.J. Jordaan started writing his famous column in 1923, the Netherlands were considered to be void of'serious' film criticism. This was partly because of the strong influence of the Nederlandsche Filmliga (the Dutch Film league), which prescribed its own artistic criteria in deciding what movies took precedence over others. However, close-examination of two Dutch national newspapers (Het Algemeen Handelsblad and De Telegraaf) in the decade prior to Jordaan's column shows that between 1910-1922 a genuine tradition of film reviewing had started to develop in the Netherlands. Especially after 1918 a specialized form of film journalism came about. Both newspapers state that the critics published on a regular basis in Het Algemeen Handelsblad and De Telegraaf. Besides the reviewing as such, the articles consisted of stories about film industries in a general way, gossip about film stars, or informative prose relative to technological innovations in movie making. An explicit theory of film criticism was never written by any of these early film journalists. But close reading of the articles these critics have written, reveals the most important criteria seem to have been intrigue, acting, mise-en-scene, and technique. The plot made out the largest part of the review; it was meticulously summarized and tuned in mild irony. Acting was considered one of the most important qualities of the cinema. Mise-en-scene and technique were mentioned less often, but were sometimes considered to have an important function in the film. When a film was presented as a work of art by the studio or cinema, artistic merit was a criterion. But when it was 'only' meant to amuse, its quality was measured by other standards, such as suspense in the case of a thriller or humor in the case of a burlesque.

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Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis

van Oort, Thunnis. (2002). Een prul een prul noemen. Filmkritiek in twee Nederlandse dagbladen 1910-1922. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 5(1), 28–49. doi:10.18146/tmg.516