Annet Duller en Wim Bos.
The Goois Museum, Hilversum, the Netherlands, on a Sunday-afternoon. A dark curtain screens the little room from daylight. On the long wooden benches and in some chairs the audience is seated. Boys, girls, but also elderly people. Their parents? Or grandfather and granny?
Outside, in the street, a car is hooting. A boy is driving a noisy moped. A plane in the air leaves a white trail. A woman is animatedly talking in the mobile telephone at her ear. In the room of the museum the clock seems to be put back at least one century.
Next to the magic lantern, an English specimen dating from 1879, with two objectives, stands Annet. With a quick hand she pushes the lanternslides alternately into the upper-groove or in the bottom-groove. The double optics offer the possibility of wonderful dissolving views and other spectacular effects. We look at a beautiful summery landscape. Gradually it is becoming autumn, winter, spring, and summer again. With her clear voice Annet knows how to transmit the emotions belonging to the pictures shown. Fear, anger, joy and grief. Her enthusiastic performance, those emotions, these make precisely the difference between a magic lantern show and a dull evening spent with the neighbours, looking at the boring slides of their holidays. The pictures may be very nice, if the performer is not able to convey emotions to his public, people will soon become bored.
Behind the lantern Wim has taken a seat. On the small table before him stands a heterogeneous collection of appliances for the sound effects. Such as a really antique music box to provide a merry melody when kaleidoscopic images are shown on the screen. Or a belly organ, to cater for the corresponding music. In addition bells, whistles, rattles and any other instrument to serve the purpose. On showing the picture with a burning house, Wim makes the fire crackle in such a realistic way that you really feel the heat. The desired effect is achieved by wrinkling a piece of cellophane. No, he never uses sounds recorded on a tape. All sounds are ‘true’.
Since 1987 Annet has been busy in organising Magic Lantern shows. At that time she ‘did everything with puppets’. She played the leading characters in famous puppet series on TV, made dresses for puppets and also designed settings occasionally; in brief: acting was already in her blood. She collected lanternslides and also had some magic lanterns at her disposal. When the umpteenth anniversary of the cinema was celebrated in a local theatre in Hilversum, someone hit upon the idea to ask Annet to give a show. After hesitating quite some time she accepted the invitation, not knowing that this would be the first of many shows to come.
In the beginning Wim only accompanied her as a driver for transporting the lantern and accessories, but Annet decided that if ‘he had to participate anyway’, he might as well make himself useful during the performance. Very soon Wim was fully involved in the show and initially this caused some friction from time to time. ‘Wim is also constantly busy in a creative way.’ Annet says. ‘Sometimes he had different ideas about the presentation. Two captains on the same ship does not work. So we have made clear arrangements on the division of labour and now everything goes well.’
The lantern they worked with at the outset, was a simple device with only one objective, and thus restricted possibilities. Therefore, Annet was very glad when she was able to purchase a double lantern at a relatively low price. This was the English Tyler from 1879 which she works with nowadays. However, an explosion of the gaslighting had seriously damaged the apparatus when it was still in use. With a saintly patience and the help of many friends she succeeded in restoring the lantern and now she is rightly proud of having achieved such a good result.
Five or six times a year Annet and Wim give shows in the Goois Museum. Besides this activity, there are also performances in other museums, homes for the elderly, and as club activities. One time they were asked for a performance at the birthday-party of a centenarian, to please the old man, his children, grand- and great-grandchildren, with nostalgic pictures from long ago. The family found a very original solution for the problem ‘what to give, goodness knows, to a centenarian?’
The shows in the Goois Museum usually have a theme, such as ‘Christmas’ or ‘fairy tales’. But sometimes the programme also includes more serious matters, e.g. death. Monks are seen striding in a long procession acros the screen, on their way to bury one of their brothers. Or a mourning family in the churchyard. All of a sudden the sky lightens, followed by the appearance of their mother in the shape of an angel. ‘Life, love, drama, war, death, birth…… these themes you will find again and again on the images,’ says Annet. ‘About one hundred and fifty years ago, such pictures caused people to faint in the audience. When the eruption of the Vesuvius was shown, the spectators left the room in a hurry, afraid as they were that the stream of lava would come down the screen and bury them. Our audience of today knows quite well that the images are not reality. Furthermore the shows are presented at a much quicker rate. Formerly you had a full evening's entertainment with a few dozens of slides. Of course you can’t do that nowadays. People would fall asleep.’
This means that a hundred percent authentic performance is not possible any more. Yet Annet and Wim try to approach the former atmosphere as near as possible, which, needless to say, requires a lot of work. ‘Sometimes it is very difficult to find out how the shows were given in the old days. It often occurs,’ Annet explains, ‘that you pick up a series of slides whilst the relevant story is missing. Then I’m really going after digging up that story. For that reason, among others, Wim and I regularly attend meetings of Magic Lantern-lovers in England. We have the pleasant experience that, when talking to other collectors, they can sometimes help you with that particular narrative, you have been looking for, for such a long time. The slides I get are often in a very bad condition. I try to restore these as much as possible to their original state. This also involves a lot of research. Fortunately I possess quite a lot of books and magazines on the subject, which are of great help.’
Annet and Wim co-operate
(co-operated, see below) regularly
with ‘de Luikerwaal’, located in Huizen.
During exhibitions from ‘de Luikerwaal’ they present one or two shows
to the visitors. That combination works perfectly: Such an exhibition is
nice, a magic lantern show is nice, but the combination of those two makes
it very special in its kind.
|The article above filled one of the first pages of my website. It was written in 1997 so it's heavily outdated, but I won't delete it. It was a nice memory of the beginning of my website; now I also see it as a tribute to Annet. Henc.|
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Last update: 22-11-2022.