Obitaury: Bert Haanstra

Like Gilbert Adair [obituary of Bert Haanstra, 28 October], I gritted my teeth through most of the "supporting programme" shorts that were screened at art houses in the Fifties and Sixties, writes Timothy Gee. Our recollections differ, though, in the case of Bert Haanstra's documentaries.

His two best-received were The Rival World (1955) and Rembrandt, Painter of Man (1957), both overlooked in his obituary. Both of them contained sequences which remain vividly in the memory more than 40 years later.

The flight of the crop- dusting aircraft through a locust plague, the windscreen wipers totally unable to cope with the debris, provided indelible visual and aural images. But the Rembrandt film was more eloquent still. It concluded with a sequence of the painter's selfportraits, arranged chronologically, dissolving one into the other. There is perhaps no other painter who has left the raw material for such a clear- sighted, unsentimental record of the human face from early manhood to old age. Haanstra made the most of his opportunity. Careful framing and skilled lighting combined to produce this uniquely cinematic version of the ages of man.

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