A Fan (Frans Zwartjes, 1968, Netherlands)

A Fan is a 1968 short by Frans Zwartjes, starring Zwartjes' recurring collaborator Lodewijk de Boer. de Boer, who died in 2004, was a Dutch viola player, playwright, stage director, composer, improvisational musician, and actor. de Boer's background was primarily in the experimental theater, a trait that he shared with Zwartjes. The film opens with de Boer, sitting on a couch in a drag outfit, holding a fan. de Boer's floral dress matches the wallpaper in the background. Zwartjes cuts rapidly between his fan and his exposed knees, almost as if he is experimenting with subliminal messaging. 

de Boer exhibits a fidgety character, constantly using the fan and looking around from side to side. Zwartjes intercuts this with shots of his knees. This creates a disorienting effect as the film progresses - de Boer's blank, expressionless stare being the recurrent motif, along with his exposed knees. While Zwartjes' other works primarily focus on heterosexual relationships, it would not be surprising to see here that he also explored alternative identities and sexualities. The sense of paranoia that emanates throughout the film, mixed with a seeming sense of self-confidence, undoubtedly carries with it a sense of sexual identity. 

While certain of Zwartjes' films embody a kind of narrative, A Fan is more like variations on a theme. The rapid intercutting between the flitting of the fan, and moments of still and quiet staring, has an almost musical quality to it. Most of Zwartjes' early shorts, despite being silent, would go quite well with the music. It's no wonder that many people on YouTube have used Zwartjes' short films and turned them into a music video. The film ends with a still photo of de Boer and the fan. While A Fan is a minor effort from Zwartjes', it is nonetheless an interesting experiment and worth evaluating. 



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