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Animation Film


Gerrit van Dijk


Running Time: 22'

Main Cast:
Rutger Hauer - Dutch Schultz Voice-Over
Wigbolt Kruijver - Dutch Schultz
Huub van der Lubbe - The Killer
Maarten Wansink - The Bartender
Henry Kalb - The Bookkeeper
Peter Drost - Gangster #1
Jaap Postma - Gangster #2
Stef van den Eynden - The Cook

Gerrit van Dijk and Michael Helmerhorst

"I had nothing against him; he was a cowboy in one of days a week fight". These are the words of Arthur Flegenheimer - better known as Dutch Schultz - exactly as he spoke them. At the top of his career during the Prohibition years, second only to Al Capone, Dutch Schultz was one of the most powerful and famous racketeer-bootleggers of his time.

1935. Dutch Schultz is shot down in the Palace Chop House in Newark (a commuter town near New York City) by cut-throats from "Murder Incorporated", and dies a day later from his wounds in the Newark City Hospital.

The bookkeeper, Aba Daba Berman and the bodyguards Abe Landau and Lulu Rosen-Krantz die upon their arrival there, while Dutch Schultz survives a whole day.

In a press photograph from 'The New York Times', we see him lying on his hospital bed, covered to the waist by a blanket, his face twisted into a grimace of pain and astonishment, his hair glued to his scalp by blood. He looks with distaste at his body - a huge bullet wound gapes in his side and blood seeps onto the sheets. Tight-lipped, he frowns as he surveys the damage... Despite the pain and befogged by morphine, he tries to sit upright to see who is entering and leaving the room.

Detective Luke Conlon fires questions at him, "Who shot you?". Schultz, "The Boss himself". In the following 24 hours, the Dutchman speaks some 2,000 words and calls his mother no less than 25 times, his father only once. "Mother is the best bet and don't let Satan draw you too fast..".

References to famous "colleagues" like Lucky Luciano, Legs Diamond and Johnny Torrio occasionally emerge in his delirium, but the names of his attackers don't slip from his tongue.

"The Dutchman beat many a rap but never sang..."

Dutch's last monologue is full of typical expressions from the jargon of the underworld. Despite hanging onto life by a thread, on his deathbed, Dutch Schultz seems haunted mainly by money problems and untrustworthy confederates. "Dog Biscuits" and "Open-the-Soap-Duckets" are references to cash money. "Get your onions up" and "Get the doll a roofing" are both references to quick sexual encounters and offers of protection for girlfriends.

This short film, with mixed animation and live-action sequences, is a stream of evocative images on the last words of the famous gangster known as Dutch Schultz.

For the creation of this scenario, Gerrit van Dijk and Michael Helmerhorst confined themselves to the authentic text, where they found more than enough material to nerve-shattering sequences of images. Dutch Schultz's caleidoscopic, delirious swan song is mature, hard-hitting material, perfectly suited for animation.

The original text is read in a voice-over performance by Rutger, forming the rhythmic and dramatic basis for a rotoscopic, visual translation of the found footage - stock material, feature films and newsreel fragments.

Each chapter of the film starts with a live-action scene, in which the murderous assault on Dutch Schultz is shown through different perspectives.

Police stenographers sat by Schultz's bedside to take note of his last words, in order to try to find out who had attacked him and his bodyguards. Those notes (now preserved in the Library of Congress) became a report on the visions of a dying gangster, often in delirium, as he re-lived fragments of his past. Dutch Schultz's murder was turned into an event of mythic proportions - witnesses gave extremely contradictory accounts; various versions of what happened exist to this day.

The original text runs to some 2,000 words, and was adapted by the writer William Burroughs into a near-apocalyptic film script. Burroughs used Schultz's last words as the basis for a multi-faceted cavalcade of free associations, and he also added countless extra characters - junkies, wild boys, mad scientists, etc. This complex film script was never realized. Directors like Francis Ford Coppola, John McNaughton and Dennis Hopper made serious attempts, all of which failed.

"The Last Words of Dutch Schultz", a monologue full of breaks and rough edges, is the perfect basis for a many-layered filmic narrative, set against the background of a turbulent period.

The film consists of 8 animated "chapters", each introduced by a stylized live-action scene of the lethal attack on Schultz, seen through the eyes of witnesses. The live-action sequences represent hard, external reality. The animation sequences portray adrift reality, memories, re-surging traumas and the fight against death. The live-action fragments serve to introduce each new rotoscope sequence ("rotoscoping" is an animation technique in which images of live action are traced, either manually or automatically), and give the film its basic rhythmic structure. Each live-action sequence also forms a sharp contrast between the final, violent seconds of a gangster's career and the feverish world of a dying man.

Gerrit van Dijk, the director, was born in Uden, the Netherlands, in 1938. After completing the Academy of Arts and Architecture in Tilburg, he began his career as a painter, with both national and international exhibitions. He was involved in several multi-disciplinary projects. His animation work emerged from his painting - in 1971 he began making films as moving paintings. Gerrit mixes various styles and techniques. His films are a combination of filmic and graphic art. They have won praises from audiences all over the world. "He Almost Clutched His Hand" was selected for the Cannes Film Festival in 1983. "A Good Turn Daily" won the Golden Calf as Best Short Film in the Netherlands in 1984. His most recent film "I move, so I am" was premiered at the Netherlands Film Festival in 1997 and won a Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1998.

Rutger with Gerrit and Michael

A page from the storyboard

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