Small as Belgium may be, we have a lot to offer. The following five movies, in one way or other, encapsulate a specific side of Belgium as no other. Some were made by Belgians, others were inspired by Belgium, or are a remake of a Belgian classic.
Set up a projector in the garden or save the below gems for a rainy summer eve.
Bruges is most known for its quaint streets and UNESCO protected medieval architecture. It is tourists’ favorite place to visit in Belgium, to take pictures or go on a romantic outing. According to the 2008 movie of the same name, it is also a perfect hideaway for Irish hitmen.
Starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, the movie tells the story of two Dublin hitmen, whose latest job went horribly wrong. When trying to find a place to hide away from the consequence of their failed job, they end up in Bruges, as it is the last place anyone would go looking for them.
In Bruges turns Bruges’ identity inside out. It shows the viewer the breathtakingly beautiful city, and at the same time reflects whether the city has anything else to offer, aside from tourist traps, overcrowded squares and unnaturally clean streets. Does Bruges have anything else to offer? Watch the movie to find out, and then visit the city to make up your own mind.
Rundskop / Bullhead
Belgian filmmakers seem to have a preference for dark subjects. Michael Roskam’s 2011 debut ‘Rundskop’ (Bullhead) is no different, rising to fame when the movie was nominated for an Academy Award. Especially the movie’s lead, Matthias Schoenaerts, became a regular in Hollywood’s blockbusters, and has appeared on the international big screen several times since 2011.
Rundskop shows the harsh environment of Limburgish cattle farming, when a young farmer becomes involved with the illegal steroid trade. The murder of a federal policeman and a mysterious secret from his past set in motion a chain of events with far-reaching consequence for the main character.
The movie shows both a darker side to Belgium, and the rustic beauty of the Limburgish region.
The adventures of TinTin- The Secret of the Unicorn
The Tintin-series, written and drawn by Hergé, is the national pride of Belgium, and is probably the best excuse you will find to rediscover your childhood love for comic books. Since the first album’s publication in 1930, the series has been translated into over 110 languages, letting people all over the world enjoy TinTin’s adventures in far-off places.
The movie starts, true to tradition, in Brussels, with TinTin finding a miniature of a ship in a bottle. This launches him into an unexpected adventure, beautifully animated and with a score to win prizes.
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Alabama Monroe)
Inspired by American bluegrass music, Belgian theatre company created and performed The Broken Circle Breakdown – play in 2009. Due to national success, a movie quickly followed in 2012. Considering the world-class performances by Veerle Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh, the heartbreaking story and the breathtaking soundtrack, it came as no surprise when the movie was nominated for an Academy Award in 2012.
Set in Ghent, The Broken Circle Breakdown explores the lives of a young couple within a bluegrass band, whose relationship is tested when their six-year old daughter develops cancer and succumbs to it within a year. Her death has a devastating effect on them as individuals, and on their relationship.
The movie explores universal themes, but also gives an intimate insight into Belgium’s international aspirations, both in music as in filmmaking.
Deux jours, une nuit (Two Days, One Night)
The brothers Dardennes are an international directors pair, who have become internationally known for their honest insight into the darker sides of human life. Deux jours, une nuit is no different, and gave Marion Cottilard an Best Actress nomination at the 87th Academy Awards.
The movie plays in Seraing, an industrial town near Liège, Belgium, where a young wife and mother is on the brink of losing her job. Her manager offers her a weekend (two days, one night) to convince her co-workers to not vote to make her redundant.
Beautifully brought to life, the everyday life of the workers around Liege is shown in all honesty, together with the nature and hard truths of life in less than perfect circumstances.
Nationally famed quizmaster Eric Van Looy (De Slimste Mens) is a lauded film director, who receive international fame when his movie Loft (2008) was picked up by Hollywood. In 2014, a Hollywood remake was released, telling the same story, rewritten for an American audience. The remake was not well-received, but the Flemish original is worth watching.
The somewhat creepy series received wide international acclaim, and was an enormous hit on Netflix. It tells the story of a women who has lost her short-term memory due to a car accident. Starring Veerle Baetens in the lead, the series offers insight into less visited Belgian spots and nature. It is an intellectually challenging project and will suck you right in with its challenging script and top-notch cinematography.