Movies for Gamers #12: Floris van Rosemondt

This is part of a series of reviews of movies particularly interesting or inspiring for role playing. Because of their setting, style, characters, editing or story. Read the introduction here or here if you are new to this series.

Another series only available in Dutch. I'm talking about the late 1960s black and white series done by Paul Verhoeven – who you may know from Basic Instinct or Zwartboek (Black Book). Verhoeven won international fame with many films, but this was his first real thing after doing promotional films for the army.

The series was conceived as the Dutch version of shows like the English Ivanhoe – the one with Roger Moore – or the French Thierry la Fronde. And even if it looks a bit slow, stilted and black and white nowadays, the basic ideas, combats and stunts are still good. The episodes just need a little upgrade. Or the loving eye of someone who saw the shows as a kid. Like me.

Knight Floris van Rosemondt is played by Rutger Hauer – who you may know from Ladyhawke or The Hitcher. He returns from crusade to find that his family castle has been stolen by the Duke of Gelre and his henchman Maarten van Rossum – the knight, not the historian. The first thing Maarten does is put Floris in prison. But fortunately his East Indian fellow traveller and mystic Sindala, and a magician help him escape. And there the series takes off. Floris fights to get his family home back for the next twelve shows.

As a starting point for a campaign, the Floris setting is intriguing. Because if you let the players be Floris and his friends, that means they are fighting for their own small country. Floris is heir to not only a castle, but an entire fief. Automatically, the heroes have something at stake - and that's something to play the game for. It is what I call embedding the characters. They are no longer loose cannons, but essential part of the story and the land.

As a straight fantasy setting, Floris will not be enough. Magic does not exist, and if the characters seem to think it does, it will always be a straight magicians trick or a guy hidden under a sheet. But there are some nice semi-historical types, like Lange Pier the tall Pirate, painter Hieronimus Bosch, and Floris himself. And you might get a few nice low-key plot ideas from watching the series. Or reading the comic strips of same.

Did I say the series was only available in Dutch? I lied. Paul and Rutger did a remake of the series in German, five years later. Floris von Rosemunde. In full color. You didn't know that, did you? Neither did I.

Then Floris was shelved for thirty years. Only recently the story was remade as a movie, with fresh Dutch actors, but that's for another time. As a basis for a campaign, Floris needs a bit more flesh. But as I said it's a nice start. And if you're Dutch, you might consider reading up on your history if you can do better than scriptwriter Gerard Soeteman. Hey, maybe you can! Also have a look at the Ammersfurt series of adventures on this site.

Nostalgic? Curious? If you speak Dutch, you can even have a look at the old shows on web video. Here.

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