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16 October 2016

Pietje Bell (2002)

Every autumn, the Cinekid Film, Television and New Media Festival offers films, workshops and masterclasses for Dutch children during the school holidays. This year, the international festival celebrates its 30th anniversary, and yesterday started the ten days’ event in Amsterdam and 30 other cities in the Netherlands EFSP salutes this wonderful festival with a post on the Dutch family film Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002). Based on the popular Pietje Bell books of Chris van Abkoude, the film tells the tales of a young rascal with a heart of gold, who always gets into trouble. Pietje was played by the director’s son, the then 10-years old Quinten Schram, and the film became a box-office hit in the Netherlands.

I.M. Hans Pos (1958–2014) - Pietje Bell
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) featuring Quinten Schram. Caption: Pietje Bell.

Pietje Bell (2002)
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) featuring Quinten Schram. Caption: Pietje Bell.

Pietje Bell (2002)
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) featuring Quinten Schram as Pietje In the middle), Jordy Mul as Engeltje and Sjoerd Metz as Peentje. Caption: the gang set off.

I.M. Hans Pos (1958–2014) - Pietje Bell
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) featuring Quinten Schram. Caption: Pietje Bell.

I.M. Hans Pos (1958–2014) - Pietje Bell
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) featuring Quinten Schram. Caption: Pietje Bell.

A scamp with a heart of gold


The Pietje Bell children's books were written by the Dutch writer Chris van Abkoude. He wrote the first book of the series in 1914.

Pietje Bell is situated in the city of Rotterdam during the early 20th Century. Pietje (Little Peter) is the son of cheerful shoemaker Bell (Felix Strategier) and is a scamp with a heart of gold.

The boy and his 'Robin Hood'-type gang of the Black Hand repeatedly end up in trouble. Pietje does not want to be naughty but tries to make people laugh. This always goes wrong.

Piet's sister Martha (Katja Herbers) is engaged and later married to Paul Velinga (Rick Engelkes), son of a distinguished family. He's about the only one who understands the boy.

Pietje’s big enemies are the chemist Geelman (Arjan Ederveen) and his son Joseph (Stijn Westenend). When the chemist complains to father Bell about Pietje’s brutality (he has called Geelman ‘bald head’, for example), Pietje’s father can only laugh about it.

Pietje Bell (2002)
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) featuring Felix Strategier as Vader Bell. Caption: Father Bell.

Pietje Bell (2002)
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) with Katja Herbers as Martha Bell. Caprion: Martha Bell.

Pietje Bell (2002)
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) featuring Quinten Schram as Pietje Bell, Rick Engelkes as Paul Velinga, and Herman Vinck as the editor. Caption: Pietje Bell visiting the newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws (The Latest News).

Pietje Bell (2002)
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) featuring Quinten Schram as Pietje Bell and Stijn Westenend as Jozef Geelhoed. Caption: Jozef Geelhoed.

I.M. Hans Pos (1958–2014) - Pietje Bell
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) featuring Stijn Westenend and Arjan Ederveen as son and father Geelhoed.

Box Office Hit


Chris van Abkoude’s stories about Pietje have been adapted to film twice. The first adaptation was De Avonturen van Pietje Bell/The Aventures of Pietje Bell, directed by Henk van der Linden in 1964.

This second adaptation is made by Maria Peters, who is responsible for both the script and the direction. She was previously responsible for the filming of Kruimeltje/Little Crumb (1998), another classic children’s book by Chris van Abkoude. Both films were produced by Hans Pos and Dave Schram, Maria’s husband. The lead role of Pietje was played by their son Quinten Schram (1992).

Branko Collin at IMDb: “nice images, good adventure, so-so acting of the leads and sometimes irksome dialogue. The Rotterdam of the 1920s was convincingly portrayed. There was a cartoonesque feel to the decor, which made it easier to focus on the story.”

The film was a box office hit. Pietje Bell received a Golden Film (75,000 visitors) as well as a Platinum Film (200,000 visitors) in 2002.

The next year, a sequel followed, made by the same team: Pietje Bell II: De jacht op de tsarenkroon/Peter Bell II: The Hunt for the Czar Crown (Maria Peters, 2003). That same year, composer Ruud Bos adapted the novel into a musical called Pietje Bell - De Musical.

I.M. Hans Pos (1958–2014) - Pietje Bell
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) featuring Quinten Schram. Caption: The Black Hand Gang.

Pietje Bell (2002)
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) with Serge Price as Kees. Caption: Kees.

Pietje Bell (2002)
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) featuring Quinten Schram as Pietje Bell, Frensch de Groot as Sproet, Sjoerd Metz as Peentje, and Jordy Mul as Engeltje. Caption: The Black Hand gang goes fishing.

Pietje Bell (2002)
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) featuring Quinten Schram and Frensch de Groot. Caption: Pietje and Sproet.

Pietje Bell (2002)
Big Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002). Caption: The secret clubhouse of the Black Hand gang.

I.M. Hans Pos (1958–2014) - Pietje Bell
Dutch postcard by Rubinstein. Photo: publicity still for Pietje Bell/Peter Bell (Maria Peters, 2002) featuring Quinten Schram. Caption: the President of the Black Hand Gang - Pietje Bell.

Sources: Wikipedia (Dutch and English) and IMDb.

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