The Big Movement

Reality is subtitled in The big movement. Spectators sit in a small custom-made cinema and see life as a film, as it is playing out at that moment outside the cinema walls. Unsuspecting passers-by play the main roles.

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A Chinese voice-over describes life as it is happening outside; subtitled in the language of the country in which the performance happens. The audience hears what is exceptional about the everyday behaviour on a square in an average Western city, through the eyes of someone whose thoughts are determined by a collective mindset. For the Chinese voice-over actor, individual behaviour stands in contrast to the grand narratives about the origins of the universe, the earth and humanity. Through the Mandarin voice-over script, always using past tense as a dramaturgic device, the audience experiences a certain distance from the outside world.

After twenty minutes, the film stops, the filmed material is slowly rewound, the hasty individual movements change into a joint choreography. Shown ‘in reverse’, the passers-by appear to be aware of each other’s presence. Among the masses walking backwards, there is one person moving forwards. It appears to be the Chinese voice-over actor, a woman withdrawing from the group. The audience finally sees themselves in the film, they become aware of their own position in the collective human history.


The Big Movement, version Turin (2012)


"It is wonderful to see how the most normal images change into a disconcerting documentary about humanity (…). Verhoeven succeeds in touching the public on a sensitive spot."

Theater Centraal

"You become aware of coincidence, of the miracle of the moment (...) of your own humanity, your restricted view (...). First rate."

‘Multidisciplinair zwerven op Bossche Boulevard’ ('Multidisciplinary wandering on Bossche Boulevard'), Ellen on the Weegh on 8 weekly (13-08-2006)read the review (in Dutch)

Public reception


A report on the exhibition in Budapest (2009).

watch the video (in Hungarian/English)


concept Dries Verhoeven

dramaturgy Nienke Scholts (2008) en Paulien Geerlings (2006)

software Sylvain Vriens

voice-over Anny Tseng

photography Dries Verhoeven

co-commissioned by Theaterfestival Boulevard (2006) and Huis and Festival a/d Werf (2009)