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Antonia's Line

Antonia's Line
German poster
Directed by Marleen Gorris
Produced by Gerard Cornelisse
Hans De Weers
Hans de Wolf
Written by Marleen Gorris
Starring Willeke van Ammelrooy
Els Dottermans
Jan Decleir
Victor Löw
Johan Heldenbergh
Edited by Wiebe van der Vliet
Distributed by Asmik Ace Entertainment
Release dates
  • 12 September 1995 (1995-09-12) (TIFF)
  • 21 September 1995 (1995-09-21)
Running time
102 minutes
Country Netherlands
Language Dutch
Box office $4,228,275

Antonia's Line (Original title: Antonia) is a 1995 Dutch film written and directed by Marleen Gorris. The film, described as a "feminist fairy tale,"[1][2][3] tells the story of the independent Antonia (Willeke van Ammelrooy) who, after returning to the anonymous Dutch village of her birth, establishes and nurtures a close-knit matriarchal community. The film covers a breadth of topics, with themes ranging from death and religion to sex, intimacy, lesbianism, friendship and love.


Following World War II, the widow Antonia and her daughter Danielle arrive at Antonia's home town where her mother is dying. Antonia turns down an offer of marriage from Farmer Bas, but develops a romance with him anyway. Danielle becomes an artist and expresses interest in raising a child, while rejecting the idea of having a husband. Antonia and Danielle visit the city to find a man to impregnate Danielle, resulting in the birth of Therèse, an unusually intelligent girl. Danielle also develops a lesbian relationship with Therèse's tutor.

Years later, Therèse is raped by a man named Pitte, who had earlier raped his mentally handicapped sister Deedee. Antonia places a curse on him, after which he is drowned. Therèse is unable to find her intellectual match but eventually has a relationship with a childhood friend, resulting in her pregnancy. She decides to keep the baby and gives birth to Sarah, the film's narrator. Antonia later dies of old age, in the company of friends and family.


Gorris wrote the screenplay herself and finished it in 1988. However, making the film took three attempts, with challenges stemming from putting together a large cast and finding a village that could be portrayed as realistic for a 50-year period. It was eventually filmed in Belgium.[4]

Another major challenge was finding investors.[5] Funding ultimately came from the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK.[4] With the help of producer Hans de Weers, Gorris found investors and also worked with British producer Judy Counihan of Red Hot Organization.[5]

Filming finished in November 1994.[6]


Reception of Antonia's Line was largely favourable. Roger Ebert gave the film four stars, saying the film showed "the everyday realities of rural life, a cheerful feminism, a lot of easygoing sex and a gallery of unforgettable characters."[7] Leonard Maltin called it "a treat from start to finish."[8]

Women's studies Professor Linda Lopez McAlister commented that "It seems to me that Gorris's accomplishment in this film is to have created a sense of place and characters full of life, full of quirks and idiosyncrasies and peccadillos, full of love,and rage, and desire."[9] Conversely, Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle called the film "rubbish" and the character of Antonia a "sour pickle."[10]

Antonia's Line won the 1996 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film,[8] the Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice award,[10] and two Nederlands Film Festival Golden Calf awards.[11] Gorris also won for Best Director at the Hamptons International Film Festival and Best Screenplay at the Chicago International Film Festival.[6]

Anneke Smelik analyzed the film, writing "It is Oedipal in the sense that it is about a family, but instead of featuring the triangle of father, mother and child, the film establishes a line of mothers and daughters." She goes on to write, "Female desire is represented in all of its diverse manifestations: Antonia's wish for independence, Danielle's quest for artistic creativity, Therèse's pursuit of knowledge, and Sarah's curiosity about life in general."[12]



  1. ^ Sarah Kerr, "Antonia's Line," The New Yorker, URL accessed 20 January 2013.
  2. ^ Stephen Hunter, "Fairy tale for feminists sparkles in 'Antonia's Line'," The Baltimore Sun, 26 July 1996, URL accessed 20 January 2013.
  3. ^ Sam Strangeways, "Feminist fairy tale is a lovely, meandering film," The Royal Gazette 18 March 2011, URL accessed 30 January 2013.
  4. ^ a b Marjorie Baumgarten, "Antonia's Line Is a Dutch Treat," The Austin Chronicle, URL accessed 20 January 2013.
  5. ^ a b Alan A. Stone, "A Second Nature," Boston Review, Summer 1996, URL accessed 21 January 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Antonia's Line (1995): Miscellaneous Notes," Turner Classic Movies, URL accessed 21 January 2013.
  7. ^ Roger Ebert, "Antonia's Line,", 14 February 1996, URL accessed 20 January 2013.
  8. ^ a b Leonard Maltin, ed., Leonard Maltin's 2002 Movie & Video Guide. A Signet Book, 2001, p. 53.
  9. ^ Linda Lopez McAlister, "Antonia's Line," The Women's Show, WMNF-FM 88.5, Tampa, Florida, 20 April 1996, URL accessed 20 January 2013.
  10. ^ a b Edward Guthmann, "Antonia's' Tangled Line," San Francisco Chronicle, 14 February 1996, URL accessed 20 January 2013.
  11. ^ Allen Barra, "'Antonia's Line' sets a new mark for feminism," San Francisco Chronicle, 14 February 1996, URL accessed 20 January 2013.
  12. ^ Anneke Smelik, "Feminist Film Theory," The Feminist eZine, URL accessed 20 January 2013.

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