The cultural event of the year, Atardi premier, at Teatro Principal, San Nicolas

We journeyed to San Nicolas last evening, had a spot of dinner at Kultura café, chased it by an excellent cappuccino, then crossed the street to meet Ineke Lampe at the theater.

We collected our tickets and filed into the auditorium, observing social distancing. I noticed a few members of parliament, members of the opposition in the audience, keeping the MinFec company at friendly distance.

We travelled through two hours of interviews, music, more music, archival clips, old fashioned commercials, and brilliant Papiamento narration with English subtitles — thank you for that, my guests said it was helpful.  

The movie, by film-maker Selwyn de Wind, who has been working on it for five years, is stitched together from bits and pieces featuring Curacao musicians, family members, old TV footage, all starring Rudy Plaate, also loved ones and friends talking about his legacy.

Rudy was a musical giant who enjoyed a stellar career on the islands in the 70s, recording many albums, as many as 400 songs, helping pave his way to an iconic status. Selwyn sought Aruba’s Michael Lampe out for sound-design of his documentary.

Atardi, named after Rudy’s perhaps most famous song, recorded in 1973, in worthy of watching, but it is very long. Selwyn was in love with the materials and couldn’t bring himself to use scissors.

Other than that it is fascinating to see Curacao in the old days, the people, the clothes, the homes and gardens, the intricate family relationships.

The talented Rudy was an ‘outside child’ of an affluent merchant/entrepreneur father with a penchant for fancy cars. He lost a beloved brother at an early age. He was adored by his sisters, worshipped by his wife, his teenage sweetheart. As a popular entertainer, he was chased by women of all ages, and often succumbed to their charms. He played tennis, he gardened and farmed, he ran a green grocery, nurtured the Perlitas, a choir of young girls, recorded tons of singles and LPs, and sometime mid-life suffered from a health crisis which led to a mental breakdown, at the height of which he shot himself in the groin.

Think about it. He shot himself at the source of his pain. Accident, or death-wish, I am still pondering the question.

The movie has many tender moments, we follow the confident, almost cocky, gorgeous Caribbean music sensation, a radiant, singer/composer, bursting with creative energy, through many stages of his career from the peak of his fame and charisma, to the Atardi of his life, which tambe tin tristesa, the twighlight, his frame diminished by demensia, his eyes emptying of vitality, or’e dia ta jega su fin, ta manera un parti di nos ta bajendo y jamás nos lo bolbe mire.

What a sweetheart of a musician he was/is, a native of Curacao, now 83, recently widowed, having lost his adorable wife. That was a very touching part of the movie. Her funeral, especially the impossible moment in which Rudy helps close her coffin shut. Pure heartbreak.

The new ATARDI recorded by Michael Lampe and a few other gifted friends is finally played at the end of the movie with the rolling credits. At this point I really wanted to get up, and stretch, having stayed in my seat for so long, so the production deserves perhaps a more prominent time slot, but then again, don’t take my word for it, I never made a movie.




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July 11, 2020
Rona Coster