`Never rest until you've reached the highest rung of the ladder of life, boy.' With this counsel in the back of his head, Cornelis Verolme, the seventh son of a potato and onion grower from Goeree-Overflakkee, rose from nothing to the biggest post-war Dutch shipbuilder. As high as he rose, just as deep Verolme fell, forfeiting his entire empire in the process.
Rudolf van den Berg sketches the rise and fall of this boundlessly ambitious man, who smells of lavender. He spoke with candid proponents and opponents, as well as with his daughters, close relatives, a former minister and the current mayor of Rotterdam. During the interviews, historical footage is projected in the background. The biggest trump of the film is Verolme's voice, explaining on an old tape recording how he lived, what his motives were and how he coped with the animosity in the Rotterdam corps d'elite: `The names of those dwarves are only known in Rotterdam, mine all over the world.' The shipbuilder's voice lingers long after.
NL - Netherlands Film Festival Golden Calf