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Ciske the Rat  
Paperback, 25th edition, 1984
Author Piet Bakker
Original title Ciske de Rat
Country Netherlands
Language Dutch
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Elsevier
Publication date 1942 - 1946
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 620

Ciske de Rat ("Ciske the Rat") is a novel for children by Dutch author Piet Bakker. It is part of the Ciske trilogy which was written between 1941 (publication was however delayed by paper shortages until 1942) and 1946. The book was published in more than ten countries. It was made into two films, a television series and a musical. Best known is the film version of 1984, starring Danny de Munk as Ciske (pictured), Herman van Veen and Willeke van Ammelrooy.


Plot summary

Ciske de Rat ("Ciske the Rat") is the story of eleven year old lonely street child Ciske (Franciskus) Vrijmoeth, who has no friends and is only called "the rat". The setting is in Amsterdam in the 1930s. Ciske has to change school, because he poured ink over his teacher's head. After school, he helps out in a pub, where his mother Marie also works. His beloved father Cor is a fisherman and therefore not at home. The story is told by his new teacher Bruis, who gives him a chance.

Ciske groeit op ("Ciske Grows Up") is the second part. Ciske starts a fire at home as he accidentally knocks over a lantern. He meets his father, who wants to get divorced. At school he makes friends with a sick boy called Dorus. One night, Ciske surprises his mother with another man, who beats him. As his mother tears out pages from a book which was a gift from Dorus, who later dies, Ciske gets angry and kills his mother with a knife. He is then arrested and put into jail. His teacher helps him out, and after Ciske saves a drowning boy's life, he is declared a hero and lives together with his father and aunt Jans.

In the third part, Cis de man ("Cis the Man"), Ciske is now an adult soldier and fights against the German soldiers in World War II. This part of the book was published in 1946 after the Dutch liberation and is not included in the films.




The first film was issued in 1955, starring Dick Van der Velde as Ciske and Kees Brusse as the teacher Bruis. The black-and-white film, which was directed by Wolfgang Staudte, won an OCIC Award and a Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Based on admissions, it is still the third most popular Dutch film in Dutch box office history.


The second film was directed by Guido Pieters and filmed by Frans Bromet. Ciske is played by 14-year-old Danny de Munk who also sang the title song Ik voel me zo verdomd alleen ("I feel so damned alone") which scored a number one hit in the Netherlands. Herman van Veen played his teacher Bruis and Willeke van Ammelrooy his mother. The film was successful and in 1985 won a UNICEF Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. The producer was Matthijs van Heijningen and the film score was composed by Eric van der Wurff.

An enhanced television series was later broadcast.

Both films are still in the Top Ten Dutch films visited in the Netherlands since 1945.


The 1984 soundtrack features two songs from the film: Ik voel me zo verdomd alleen (composed by Herman van Veen, lyrics by Karin Loomans) and Vergeet nu maar je zorgen ("Now forget your worries"), which is played at the closing credits.


On October 5, 2007, a musical of the whole trilogy started in Amsterdam, starring 37-year-old Danny de Munk (who had gone on to appear in several Dutch musicals in the years after his portrayal of young Ciske in the movie) as grown-up Ciske. The music was composed by Henny Vrienten. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands was present at the gala premiere.

External links


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