PATRASCHE, A DOG OF FLANDERS
Didier Volckaert, An van Dienderen | Belgium, Japan 2008 | 85 Min. | OmeU
Every day Japanese tourists visit the Antwerp Cathedral in Flanders. In front of Ruben’s Descent from the Cross they start to cry. Nobody in Flanders has any idea that they are moved because of a tiny book written in 1872 by the British Louise de la Ramée. Today this book, A Dog of Flanders is taught in Japanese high schools, it is a forgotten classic in the UK and the States and has inspired numerous Hollywoodfilms in the States and a Japanese animated series in 1975 that influenced the Japanese culture intensely (over 30 million television Japanese viewed the last episodes.) By contrast, the novel was translated into Dutch only in 1987. Despite this and some minor tourist attempts the people of Flanders are hardly interested in A Dog of Flanders.
Through the story of A Dog of Flanders and its many images, the film continuously flirts with imaginary, fictionalized and hilarious versions of Flanders. It is therefore clear that this documentary is not destined for “Flemish” viewers. Patrasche, a Dog of Flanders – Made in Japan is a laboratory of the image. It is a prism, through which the viewer can experience how flu reality is and how a small book can stigmatize (or create?) an entire culture.