Educational Films

The rapid increase in educational film shows for children at the end of the 1910s meant that there was a big demand for educational films. This demand led to a wide variety of initiatives and activities in this area. 

Stoop and the folklorist

One of the first films that screened in the municipal school cinema in The Hague once that institution became independent in 1918 was Hoe men het geld maakt in Nederland by Willy Mullens. David van Staveren was the director of The Hague’s school cinema and he was closely involved in the making of this film.

Jules Stoop, the director of the newly founded company Filmfabriek Polygoon, was irritated by the close connection between Willy Mullens’ company Haghe Film and The Hague’s school cinema, as well as by the fact that its director Van Staveren was also a member of the board of directors of the Nederlandsch Centraal Filmarchief with whom Mullens had negotiated a particularly favourable contract.  

Stoop aspired to take over some of Haghe Film’s share of the documentary and educational film market. To achieve this, he approached Dutch folklorist Dirk Jan van der Ven in 1920. Polygoon wanted to launch itself in the market with a major documentary work, and the folklorist had recently proven he could generate a lot of attention when he organised the Vaderlands Historisch Volksfeest. 

The resulting film, Nederland’s Volksleven in de Lente, which also quickly became known as the ‘Spring film’, was made for both educational purposes as well as general audiences. Despite positive reviews, in the end, the admission figures were disappointing. The film was actually too long and monotonous for children. Known as an ‘edifying’ film, it was shown remarkably often in conference centres and community buildings, where the popular folklorist would be present to provide a long introduction. 

More educational films

De Rijn van Lobith tot aan Zee was specifically intended to be an educational film. The film provides geographical information about life along and on the River Rhine. In this case, Polygoon worked together with the director of the Rotterdam school cinema, A.M. van der Wel. The film wasn’t financially successful, but Polygoon definitely made a name for itself with this project. The reviews were positive, including those from the educational world. 

The year that film came out, Van der Wel also independently made several other educational films. Ultimately, he would become one of the Netherland’s most productive filmmakers within the educational film genre.

For the film De Veluwe, Van der Wel shot some footage himself, but most of his material was from the Nederlandsch Centraal Filmarchief, in particular from HAP & BenS’ collection of city films. Included in Van der Wel’s film were parts of Oosterbeek aan den Rijn and De Steeg by the film company AFKO in Arnhem, as well as parts of Van Arnhem naar Barneveld and Elburg which were made by Willy Mullens for Haghe Film.

Fishing for mothers and others

Polygoon had learned from its adventure with the ‘Spring film’ that an entire film made for educational purposes could very quickly become too long. This was taken into consideration when making De Nederlandsche Noordzeevisscherij: the film was a full-length feature, but each individual act could also be shown on its own. The four parts of the film were: De trawlervisscherij (I), De haringvisscherij (II), De beugvisscherij (III), and Met het hospitaal kerkschip ‘De Hoop’ (IV).

The film was made together with two experts, the fisheries teacher J. Metzelaar and the director of the fisheries school in Vlaardingen, A.C.P.E. Vermeulen. The original concept for the film came from the latter, who was put in touch with Polygoon by Van der Wel. 

On 18 January 1923, the newspaper ‘Het Vaderland’ reported that the Scheveningse Vakschool voor Zeelieden organised a special screening in the school cinema in The Hague of a ‘fisheries film’ that had been made by Polygoon for mothers. The idea was to give them an impression of the trade their sons were learning. After that they were shown a film about the sea-going trade, to persuade them that a career in the shipping industry was possible for any boy after further schooling.


more information

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