“Grandfather” by Alexander Moninghoff, from book to scene

The question, after the film adaptation of a book adopted by readers, always remains whether the film can seduce the audience as it did the writer with his literary gifts. Because both genres have their own laws and, not unimportantly, their own audience. Whether the filming of “De Stamhouder” (Libris Historisch Prijs 2015) by Alexander Moninghoff, written by Alexander Moninghoff, director Derek van Roygen and screenwriter Rick Deet succeeded, others can judge better, the images of real reality Alexander still baffles me a lot, but he touched me .

What was amazing was that the book, an autobiographical story of a dark family past, became a real scene in the TV adaptation.

This doesn’t always do justice to the subtle way certain passages in the book are taped, but the story honestly asked for it: The narrator is born during World War II during a bombing raid in Poznań, Poland, to his disintegrating father. The mysterious and cunning grandfather Joan served with the SS, he makes his way through all kinds of intrigues to one of the richest and most powerful citizens of Latvia and even after the war one drama after another unfolds.

[Tekst gaat verder onder afbeelding.]

Gijs Scholten van Aschat as Grandfather Joan Münninghoff (Photo: Dinand van der Waal)

Alexander once said, “When I went back to school after the summer at the age of six, the other kids had gone to Kadzand or something, while I had been abducted twice at the same time,” indicating that ordinary life was foreign to him. early on. Film photos show him complete with a chloroform-soaked cloth being pressed against Alexander’s face in Ballenberg, Germany. As it already happened.

Alexander Moninghoff in Latvia

The fact that the book was not followed closely everywhere was not always the result of the director’s and screenwriter’s interventions, and Corona also left its mark. All scenes for the book abroad – Germany, Poland and Latvia – were filmed in Poland. there was dr. Zhivago’-esque scenes were planned in the snow, but when the cameras were allowed to roll again, Poland was in bloom. This setback was overcome by moving a large number of activities to Grandpa Juan’s villa in Latvia. The transition from 1938 to 1939 is also celebrated. There on the brink, the family displays peacock feathers once more for the New Year’s Eve party that was never going to go away in The Great Gatsby. The roar of fireworks coloring the sky above the palace foreshadowed the cannonballs that would set Poland on fire nine months later.

Together with Elaine Munninghoff, Alexander’s widow, and her children Michelle, Maurits and Tessa, I witnessed how the story in Porowa moved from scene to scene with such lightning speed that sometimes we no longer knew what period of the book we had reached. Generations of Munninghoffs have walked together in the collection and faced each other.

Michel Moninghoff asked a fourteen-year-old boy: “What are you doing in the series.”

“I don’t know exactly, I’ll just say a few sentences.”

“But who are you playing?”


“But then you’re serious!”

the mother

Michel (1975) played no role in his father’s book, but shared the pain and mystery of his life. “As a journalist, my father naturally had a very special story to tell: the sadness of his childhood, the bad relationship with his parents, after being kidnapped from Germany he didn’t see his mother again until he was 25, and then the children who died. It was a lot. When you look at it, it was A very tragic life.”

For Ellen Monninghoff, the confusion was perhaps the greatest. Almost all of the main characters of the series have experienced personally and now they are emerging in a new reality.

She says: “It was difficult at first to let go of the real pictures because I had experienced everything, but only now I have been able to look at them from a greater distance and I think it has become a great series.

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The Münninghoff family receives an explanation about the scenes to be shot from production director Niko Post (far left). From left to right Michel and Maurits Monninghoff. Below left to right Ellen and Tessa Monninghoff. (Photo: Kasper Postma)

Now I also enjoyed those beautiful, breathtaking scenes, that brigade of horses, that wonderful train, the fireworks, but also so many carefully staged moments, all those little details. The interiors of those houses, which can only be seen for a few seconds, are very exquisite and carefully designed.”

James Bond

Did he like the narrator who died in 2020 too? It’s hard to say. But there are doubts. “When we were shooting in Poland, I hated that he wasn’t there. Alexander should have been there, I’m just a wife. He would have loved it so much,” Elaine says, citing an anecdote that Alexander coped easily with the personal coloring the script sometimes gives to life. The main characters.In order to impress his future wife Wera, Frans climbs the steps of Villa Lomani on horseback in the film.Details from the family history that Alexander – who read the script – seemed completely unknown. “It doesn’t matter, we’ll keep that!”

The cast of The Ancestor in Borowa, Poland, in anticipation of the 1938/39 New Year’s Eve party. (Photo: Kasper Postma)

On the margins of recordings in Poland, an event took place that would also have pleased the “grandfather” writer. In a memorial book, writer and former correspondent for the NRC in Moscow Laura Starinck talks about the mysterious Moninghoff. About secrets and his James Bond-like side. In Polish Boroa 007 makes itself heard. Because suddenly Krzysztof Jabłonowski appears on the set. He is the owner of the Polish palace in which the recordings take place. Jablonowski says James Bond once stood here on the set. An adventurer of questionable status, according to further investigation. He makes his money in Antwerp and Monte Carlo from the diamond trade, and then there was a lot of fuss around his involvement in a gold mine in Cameroon. In Borowa, rumor has it that he also deals in weapons.

An eventful life of Alexander Moninghoff

Undoubtedly, Alexander Munninghof encountered many such people in his eventful life. Therefore, the suspicion of a similar past as James Bond is groundless. Attracted by intelligence, including the CIA, during the Cold War, there was talk of a secret mission to the Soviet Union, and during the colonel’s regime (1967-1974) in Greece, he smuggled the diaries of Lieutenant Colonel Anastasios Menis from prison; He had already started a book about this part of his life, but death intervened. What remains is the ‘ancestor’, the book and the scene.

The first part of “De stamhouder” will be broadcast by Avrotros on NPO1 on Sunday 1st January at 9.30pm. Main roles: Alexander Munninghoff – Matthijs van de Sande Bakhuzen, Ellen Munninghoff – Sally Harmsen, (young) Frans Munninghoff – Robert de Hoog, Joan (grandfather) Munninghoff – Jess Schulten van Achat.

Our editors report this story from The Hague Central (DHC) on Thursday, December 22nd Free. Would you like to read more news from The Hague? Then buy the paper version of Den Haag Centraal. Click here for all points of sale. You can also get a (trial) subscription. You receive DHC for 10 weeks for only €10.

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