floris dvdFLORIS (1969 and 1975) – Actor Rutger Hauer and director Paul Verhoeven first worked together for this adventure series set during the very early 1500s. The program aired on Netherlands television in 1969, then was remade – again with Hauer in the swashbuckling title role – in 1975 for German television and ran for even more episodes than the original series.

Rutger starred as the fictional Floris van Rozemondt, the knightly lord of his eponymous castle. Ever the adventurer, Floris had spent ten years as a mercenary, a privateer and a sea trader, acquiring quite a fortune from the latter two pursuits.

sindala and florisAround the year 1502, word finally caught up with our wandering hero that his father and two older brothers had died. Floris returned home, accompanied by his adventuring sidekick Sindala (Jos Bergman), an Indian Fakir. (Floris and the Fakir was originally going to be the title of the series.)

Upon his arrival, Floris discovered that Castle Rozemondt had been unjustly taken from him and occupied by Maarten van Rossum (Hans Culeman) – a subordinate of the Duke of Guelders. The Guelders Wars, centering on efforts to bring the Netherlands together as one nation, had broken out during Floris’ absence and van Rossum was on the opposing side of Floris’ family.

floris in the centerFloris and Sindala fought their way out of the hands of the enemy and wound up allied with Wolter van Oldenstein and his men at Castle Oldenstein. I often wonder if the 1991 film Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves took partial inspiration from the premise of Floris, with a returning nobleman fighting oppression alongside a nonwhite comrade from his overseas adventures.

At any rate, for 12 episodes, Floris, Sindala and van Oldenstein waged war on van Rossum and the enemy forces, with our title hero eventually meeting his true love Ada (Diana Dobbelman). Though Floris and Sindala were fictional, many of the other characters in the series really existed, but, typical of so many television shows and movies, accurate history was thrown out the window since some of the people Floris interacted with were not around until later in the 1500s. (The Guelders Wars lasted roughly 41 years.)

floris picGiven popular love of such William Tell/ Robin Hood tales and Rutger Hauer’s impressive sword-wielding (sometimes with two swords at once), Floris was a hit. Unfortunately, Paul Verhoeven had gone far over budget and the series was axed before he and Hauer could even complete the 13th and final episode of the first season. Though all footage of that unfinished 13th episode was long thought lost, it was discovered in 2016 and partially reassembled.

Netherlands television, like the BBC and other outfits around the world, often taped over their older programs to save money on film. Though Floris was filmed in color, only black & white copies of the show still exist. But for the public, Hauer’s screen presence and willingness to do his own stunt work and sword fights helped make Floris very popular. 

floris againThere turned out to be so much demand for more material about Floris’ tales of derring-do that unused scripts for what would have been the program’s second season were converted into comic strips and comic books.

In 1975, West German television remade the series with the charismatic Rutger Hauer reprising his role as Floris. This time around, Derval De Faria played Sindala, Klaus Munster was Oldenstein, Fred Stillkrauth portrayed van Rossum and Christine Bohm was in the role of Ada.

floris b and wNot only were the Netherlands tv episodes remade, but the 13th episode was completed, as were 6 additional episodes on top of that. Multiple books and audio plays came along in the decades ahead, as Floris‘ cult appeal endured.

In 1985, Paul Verhoeven and Rutger Hauer incorporated some of their unused ideas for Floris into their movie Flesh and Blood. In 2004, a Floris movie was made, but without Rutger Hauer in the lead role.

Below is some footage from the 1969 series: 




Filed under Forgotten Television

11 responses to “FLORIS (1969 and 1975): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

  1. I had no idea Rutger Hauer had been active so early! I guess I only became aware of him in Bladerunner and The Hitcher!

  2. I saw “Flesh+Blood” back in the day. Dark, dark movie. I mean, I liked it, but it’s most definitely not one of those movies that makes you go “Hey it might’ve been interesting to live back in those days …”

  3. Floris sounds so good. Rutger Hauer has always been a favourite actor of mine. My wife and I always enjoyed watching Ladyhawke, which had a very good cast and some other of our favourite actors.

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