Directed by Roel Reiné
Dutch language with English subtitles
During the 17th century, the Dutch republic is attacked by British fleets and is on the brink of civil war between the republicans and the orangists. After the death of Admiral Tromp out at sea, newly elected Prime Minister of The Netherlands, Johan de Witt, appoints longtime sailor Michiel de Ruyter to lead the Dutch fleet as the new admiral, much to the annoyance of Tromp’s son Cornelis. Though initially unsure of his new role, de Ruyter begins to embrace his position and introduces a whole new system for the fleet to adhere to, including strategic positioning and flag systems. Michiel de Ruyter flourishes as Admiral, taking down the British fleets on Dutch waters and even taking the battle to Chatham. These attacks force King Charles II of England to sign a peace treaty with The Netherlands, but it isn’t long before Charles teams up with King Louis XIV of France to take down the Dutch. As their lands become invaded, civil unrest in The Netherlands heightens and it isn’t long before Prime Minister de Witt, his brother Cornelis de Witt and Michiel de Ruyter become the targets of their fear-fuelled hatred, as Prince Willem III of Orange looks to take the throne and control of The Netherlands.
Historical action drama ADMIRAL, known in Holland as Michiel de Ruyter, is the story of Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, his rise to his status as the most famous and skilled Admirals in Dutch history, and his life up to his death in 1676. Beautifully shot and magnificently told, the film presents the history in an easy to digest format that allows someone like me, who has no interested in naval history, to become invested in the story of this man and the wars he found himself in, not just on the sea but also the civil war between his own people. The emotional tale drew me in from the very beginning and by the end, left me yearning to discover more about the past and the history of The Netherlands. It helps that I have Dutch relatives so the country has always fascinated me, but even more so now.
There’s not a single bad casting choice in ADMIRAL with every single actor excelling in their respective role. Frank Lammers steals the show though as the titular character, Michiel de Ruyter. He’s a down to Earth family man despite the fact he’s been away at sea more than he’s been at home with his loving wife and three beautiful children. He’s dedicated to his country and although at first he doesn’t think he’s experienced enough to lead the Dutch fleet, he soon begins to believe in himself and takes control to lead his country to victory. However, his devotion to his country is often put to the test when the opposing groups within The Netherlands begin to rip each other apart. Whilst the rest of the cast is mainly made up of fantastic Dutch actors and actresses, including a brief performance from Rutger Hauer, our very own Charles Dance stars as King Charles II and judging from his expression as he sticks his head between the dirty pillows of his French broad, he’s got a very comfortable role indeed!
At over two hours long, this is quite an in depth film but one you can easily get drawn into and thoroughly enjoy with its well-paced, action-packed scenes, regardless if you’re into historical dramas or not. The stunning cinematography, high quality production, engaging script and spectacular performances in ADMIRAL truly make this film a biopic that would do Michiel de Ruyter proud.