The Pointsman

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The Pointsman
De wisselwachter film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jos Stelling
Produced by Jos Stelling
Stanley Hillebrandt
Screenplay by Jos Stelling
George Brugmans
Hans de Wolf
Based on De wisselwachter by Jean-Paul Franssens
Music by Michel Mulders
Cinematography Theo van de Sande
Edited by Rimko Haanstra
Release date
18 September 1986
Running time
96 minutes
Country Netherlands
Language Dutch

The Pointsman (Dutch: De wisselwachter) is a 1986 Dutch film directed by Jos Stelling, starring Jim van der Woude, Stéphane Excoffier and John Kraaijkamp, Sr. It tells the story of a French woman who moves in with a Dutch railwayman at a remote railway station. The two are unable to converse, but soon begin a strange game of seduction. The film is based on the novel De wisselwachter by Jean-Paul Franssens.

Kraaijkamp was awarded the Golden Calf for Best Actor for his performance in the film.


A French woman gets off a train by mistake at a remote location. She tries to ask the pointsman for help, but the two do not understand each other's languages. She waits for another train to arrive, but it never happens.

She eventually moves in with the man at the station. Without being able to speak, the two begin to develop a relationship over the next few months.


  • Jim van der Woude as the pointsman
  • Stéphane Excoffier as the woman
  • John Kraaijkamp, Sr. as the machinist
  • Josse De Pauw as the mailman
  • Ton van Dort as the machinist's assistant


Critical response[edit]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times described the film as "a mixture of strange, inchoate passions and even stranger Dutch humor, and there is little about it to capture the imagination. The characters and their actions are inscrutable, made even more so by the near-total absence of dialogue. The film's empty, mutable vistas (the exteriors were shot in Scotland) look good but evoke very little."[1] Time Out London wrote: "Taking no account of plausibility, Stelling's exploration of the uses and abuses of power is art house fare, but neither obscure nor elitist. Enthralling performances generate a claustrophobic tension, but there's humour too."[2]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result
Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival Silver Raven Jos Stelling Won
Fantasporto Audience Jury Award Jos Stelling Won
Best Actor Jim van der Woude Won
Netherlands Film Festival Golden Calf for Best Actor John Kraaijkamp, Sr. Won
Special Jury Prize Jos Stelling Won
São Paulo International Film Festival Audience Award for Best Feature Jos Stelling Won
43rd Venice International Film Festival Venice Authors Prize - Special Mention Jos Stelling Won


External links[edit]