Just about to party for his birthday, a grumpy war veteran refusing to have fun and enjoy the day, starts to have a vision of a mysterious young boy. Gideon van Eeden’s ‘Day of Reckoning‘ main character is haunted by a dreadful memory from his past and tortured by the thought of the crime he had committed. Building the tension gradually, the director carefully controls his film environment and the unfolding of the story behind preserving the mystery for as long as possible.
Watching this short cinematic discourse – events, it’s easy to tell, are of utter importance for Netherlands’ history – takes one on an empathic journey at a psychological level. The main character’s drama lies in not being able to forgive himself for the mistakes of the past, but more than that, he doesn’t seem to want to. As this was something undue and unnecessary.
This simple fact reflects a distinct perception of Gideon van Eeden who breaks the traditional perception of healing frustrations through the therapeutic disembarrassment of guilt. The burden of the memory the veteran has born for his entire life beyond being just a punishment, it is an unforgivable mistake that he assumes. An act of dignity and bravery we would say and ultimately a fact that endows him with a very likeable condition in front of the public’s eyes, almost absolving him from his mistake. The director emerges as a talent with a profound vision, as a mind able to see beyond the surface promoted by the trends of times or the general shared opinion of the majority. The moral issue lies in that the protagonist has escaped from being held accountable for what looks like a terrible crime but nevertheless he himself eventually proves to be his own merciless judge.
Actors do a great job playing convincingly and drawing the viewer in, away from the real world. This is something that preciously belongs to film and it is always so nice when it happens. Confident about the direction it heads to and well filmed, ‘Day of Reckoning’ emerges as a deep insight on the theme of regret and a man’s own conscience, probably the last remain of the divine in us.