Abel (1986 film)  

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Victor: "Admini-strĂ¡-teur"

Abel: "O, ik dacht administreur."


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Abel (1986) is a Dutch film directed by Alex van Warmerdam who also scripted and played the protagnist. Abel (Alex van Warmerdam) is a 31-year-old young man who still lives at his parents' home but who will soon be evicted by his father (Henri Garcin).



Abel is a 31-year-old boy who still lives at his parents home. Due to agoraphobia, he hasn't been out for over 10 years, much to the chagrin of his father Victor. On the other hand, he gets spoiled by his mother Duif. He spends most of his days spying on the neighbors, setting up his parents against each other knowingly or unknowingly and fruitlessly trying to cut flies in two with an enormous pair of scissors.

His father enlists a psychiatrist who deduces the cause of problems are the parents unhealthy relation with Abel. He then summons a mesmerist who gets frustrated by Abel. Victor then tries to set up his son with a girl in his theater society, it too fails. After a long planning the mother and son secretly buy a TV-set against Victor's wishes, when Victor finds out about this deception he gets furious and runs his son to the streets.

Abel meets Zus, who works at a peepshow called "De Naakte Meisjes" (The naked girls). She takes pity on him and starts a relation with him. Abel finds out Zus has a relation with a married man and it turned out to be his own father. In the mean time his mother finds out Abel's whereabouts and informs to her husband. When Victor knows his Son is in relationship with his prostitute friend, he becomes enraged and goes into psychotic fit. A confrontation takes place at Zus' place with Victor and Duif present. The boozy Victor tries to chase around Zus in presence of his wife and son. His son informs Duif that Victor had an extramarital affair with Zus before. Duif hoots suicide. Though when she finds neither her beloved son or husband takes her seriously, she finds insight and finally leaves her son with the prostitute and takes her husband to home. Finally Abel laughs at all this with Zus and cuts a fly into two with his scissors.



Other lead roles were played by Henri Garcin, Annet Malherbe and Olga Zuiderhoek. Supporting roles were played by Loes Luca and Arend Jan Heerma van Voss among others. Its music was written by Vincent van Waterdam and the film was distributed by First Floor Features.

Abel was Van Warmerdam's directional debut. He at first planned to make the movie in black and white but others discouraged this and he chose colour instead. The vast majority of the movie is situated in a fictive kind of Dutch fifties. Abel had over 300 000 viewers at its premiere, and it received a Gouden Kalf for 'Best film' and a Gouden Kalf for 'Best director'. In 1990 the tragedic comedy was named Best Dutch Film of the eighties by the Kring van Nederlandse Journalisten. In 2000 Abel was released on DVD. Abel was produced in collaboration with Orkater and the VPRO.

Abel (1986) aka The Voyeur - Alex Van Warmerdam

Keywords: voyeurism - farce - black comedy - tragicomedy

Waarom is het leven niet normaal?/Why is life not normal? -Victor

Meisjes vinden het leuk om bespied te worden. --Zus

Vrouwen worden lelijk als ze ouder worden, mannen interessant [not verbatim]-- Victor

Fish are a recurring theme. Eating shrimps/salmon at breakfeast, fish pictures on wall, Abel's shirt featur fish, fish shop, father brings home lobster to make ammends



  • binoculars
  • peep show
  • television
  • spying on girls (bald mountain scene). Meisjes worden graag bespied. --zus
  • looking into shop windows (when Abel is on the street)
  • looking out of the window (when Abel is in appartement)
  • looking thru fish-eye lense (father)
  • voyeurism


  • mother smelling Abel's shirt on Zus
  • het stinkt hier (Victor)
  • arme mensen ruiken naar aardappelen


  • eating fish all the time, many eating scenes
  • Color usage: Dark blue and green at parent's house and light hues and lots of red in Zus's place

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Abel (1986 film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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