Een vlucht regenwulpen (1981)
Maarten, a bachelor living with his terminally ill mother, is haunted by a nightmare in which God tells him to lose his virginity or die within the week. He desperately tries to lose his cherry, but only succeeds in doing so after his mother finally passes away, somehow setting him free from the stifling religious atmosphere he grew up in.
- Maarten, a Dutch biologist, had a nightmare during a stormy night. In it, he heard the voice of God, commanding him to "go forth and multiply" within one week, else he will die and be sent to hell. The nightmare is so disturbing to him that he rolled out of bed and woke up. He takes the warning seriously and resolves to try to find a woman. There's just one problem: Maarten is still a virgin, and has not yet been on even one date in all his life, despite the fact that he is 34 years old!
In the morning, we see that Maarten lives in a rural area of the Netherlands, with greenhouses where he grows grapes. He still lives with his mother, who is terminally ill and has nurses on hand to take care of her. She reminds Maarten that his father was recently dead, she was not far behind, and Maarten was still single.
Maarten leaves to go to his best friend Jacob's wedding, and he sees his "alter ego" (played by the same actor), and begins talking to him (to himself). This is how he goes about solving his problem. In the light of day, the nightmare seems a little bit less credible to him, and he starts making fun of it to himself - a little too much, as he stops paying attention to the road and hits another car. No one is injured, but the driver of the other car, an angry woman, demands payment for the damage. Maarten explains his problem explicitly to her, but she is unimpressed, contemptuously taking the money and driving away. Because of the delay, Maarten is the last to arrive at the wedding. While there, he thinks he sees Martha, a girl he used to know (and like).
Maarten then goes to work. He is a biology professor. His alter ego, whom only he can see, encourages him to ask out his assistant Jannie, but he is too shy. Jannie hears him talking to himself, though. He almost works up the courage to try, but she leaves for lunch.
Maarten goes out to lunch himself, where he sees another woman sitting at an outdoor cafe. At the encouragement of his alter ego, he goes and introduces himself to her, and describes his work in great detail. She listens politely, and then names her price: she's a prostitute! Once Maarten figures this out, he makes a hasty, embarrassed exit.
Back at home after work, Maarten sees his mother's nurses taking care of her, and he has a flashback to his own days as a small boy, where one afternoon he had to go to the nearest town to see the doctor. On the way there, a journey made by boat, his mother talked to him and told him about the town, the church, and the square, things he had never seen before. Little Maarten was impressed, but he was jumpy and easily frightened. His turn to see the doctor came, where he was going to have his tonsils out. The doctor and nurses tried to comfort him, and the operation was done very swiftly and cleanly, but it still hurt. Little Maarten screamed.
Back in the present day, at work the next day, Maarten once again finds it difficult to concentrate looking at Jannie. Once again appearing to work up the courage to try something, he slips and falls on scraps of paper that he dropped himself. His alter ego looks at him reproachfully, but he lost his courage again.
Later that day, he goes walking in a park and sees another woman, sitting by herself, by a monument. He goes to sit down next to her and starts talking to her. She pushes the hair away from the side of her face to reveal scarring caused by a car wreck. The scarring is not terrible, and Maarten continues talking to her. She reveals that she desperately wants to find a man and have children, and, both thinking that they have found what they are looking for, they stand up. Thus Maarten discovers that she is also several inches taller than him. Once more, he loses his nerve and runs. The woman, upset and having come so close, screams and has the police put Maarten in jail. Jacob comes to bail him out.
Maarten and Jacob spend the rest of the day on the lake, birdwatching, where Jacob comments on Maarten's inability to talk to women. Maarten tries to brush it off, but he inadvertently reveals his virginity to an incredulous Jacob. Jacob points at the shore, where they can see two teenagers having sex, and tells him "that is what life is all about."
Maarten has another flashback to his younger days, remembering that everything Jacob told him was true: there were no other children where he was, and he always had to play alone, unless he convince his mother to play with him from time to time, and this did nothing but harm to his social development. At last, Maarten's first day of school arrives. His mother shows him the path that he will have to walk every day. At the school, Maarten meets the teacher, a soldier, and he is impressed by his uniform. The man takes kindly to Maarten, but his classmates do not, and Maarten's first interactions with other children were when they pushed, poked, and prodded him while the teacher was not looking, when they were supposed to be praying or doing their schoolwork, or when they ganged up on him after school and rolled him in the cow pies.
Back at present, it's late afternoon and Maarten is heading towards Jacob's wedding reception, to be held that night. On the way there, he spots another woman riding a bicycle, who also reminds him of Martha, and, at the encouragement of his alter ego, awkwardly offers her a ride there, as they are both going to the same place. Once there, he learns from Jacob that this woman is Martha's sister Zus. He talks to her a lot during the evening, and the end of the day, she seems to be giving him lots of encouragement, but he is oblivious to it. While he is fumbling for words, she mentions an upcoming concert to him, and he agrees to come see it with her. Once he gets back in his car - alone - his alter ego berates him for missing an obvious chance, he could have bedded her that very night if he had known what to do.
The next morning, Maarten is hung over, and he slips and falls down the stairs. He sees his alter ego again, and starts daydreaming about one of the domestic workers, but only succeeds in dropping a dish. He goes to see his mother one last time before leaving for Switzerland, where he is going to a biology conference.
On the flight, Jacob points out a woman to Maarten, who looks carefully and sees that it's someone he knows vaguely from other biology conferences, Adrienne. He introduces her and Jacob to each other (the first words of the movie spoken in English).
They arrive in Switzerland, and Maarten once more very awkwardly talks to Adrienne, taking tips from his alter ego. While there, he tries to follow his alter ego's advice, but commits a major gaffe by comparing her to Martha (the alter ego "facepalms" at this). They continue to talk, but he can't undo the mistake, he blew it. Becoming more and more uncomfortable, Maarten walks her back her hotel room but slips out at the first opportunity. Maarten has another flashback, this time to his teen years, where he saw Martha for the first time and is immediately attracted to her, but is too shy to talk to her. Jacob showed him how easy it is, by making casual small talk, but Maarten just couldn't bring himself to say anything. His classmates, apparently not much different than when they were little, saw his difficulties, made fun of him and ganged up on him. After a fight, he escaped from the worst, but Martha made plain her disgust for the spectacle.
The next day, Maarten attend the conference, and gives his speech. Afterward, he, Jacob, and Adrienne go mountain climbing. His alter ego reminds him that half of his allotted week is already gone, and Maarten is no closer now than when he started.
Up in the mountains, the three walk over snow and rocks, and enjoy the spectacular Swiss scenery. The Alpine pathways are steep and uneven, making for a slow and possibly dangerous hike. On the way back down the mountain, Maarten has yet another accident, slipping and falling down a snow-covered embankment. He is knocked senseless, where he has another flashback, about talking to Martha when he was younger, and being so happy that he was even able to speak that he sang religious songs all the way home.
Maarten wakes up, shaken but luckily uninjured. They return to the hotel, and Maarten has another restless night, seeing his alter ego again. He follows his alter ego, who silently shows him that he missed his chance: Adrienne is in bed with Jacob (who got married just days earlier!)
Maarten returns home, and sees his alter ego everywhere now. He tries to ignore him, but he's in his mind and he can't get rid of him. The alter ego reminds him that time is passing. Maarten throws a bottle at him in frustration, but of course there is nothing really there, and he only breaks out a window in the greenhouse. That evening, he receives a two notices: two churchmen would be coming over soon to give his mother last rites, and there would be a school reunion the next day. Maarten wonders if Martha would be there.
Maarten goes to the reunion, where he finally spots Martha. She is married and has three children. She tells him that she has a lot of regrets, married too young, didn't finish studying at the conservatory and had to mostly give up playing the piano, and has almost no time to herself because of her family. She introduces Maarten to her husband and children, and the husband, too, is not entirely pleased at how life has turned out for him. They start sniping at each other in front of Maarten. Martha gives Maarten a ride home, and senses that he isn't happy either. Maarten goes home, disappointed with how things turned out, and sees his alter ego once again, telling him he missed yet another chance.
Towards dusk, the churchmen arrive at Maarten's house to talk to his dying mother. The men nag Maarten about not having been to church himself much lately. Maarten makes excuses, but soon admits that he no longer believes. His mother admits much the same to the shocked churchmen. They pray, but the prayer sounds barbaric to Maarten. When he can finally listen no more, he freaks out and throws the churchmen bodily out the front door. The men vow to pray for divine punishment against Maarten. Maarten, further enraged, throws one of them into the canal, and pronounces Christianity a lie, and life a joke.
Maarten goes back inside and turns on the radio for his mother, and has another flashback to when he was a young man. His father, a strict Calvinist, didn't want him to listen to the radio, but his mother didn't seem to mind. Maarten announced his intention to attend a different church that day, which also doesn't sit well with his father. His mother knows exactly why he wanted to go to the other church. Martha went there. No sooner had Maarten arrived there and sat down near her, than she walked away, to go to another part of the church, to sit with another man (her future husband.)
During the night, as Maarten sat up with her, his mother died. The next day was the last day Maarten was allotted in his nightmare at the beginning. The doctors take the body away, and Maarten disassembles his mother's bed. He drives towards town (passing the same place where he had the car wreck near the beginning). It's Sunday, and he remembers he was going to see a concert with Zus. They walk by the ponds, into the park, where he tells her a little about his work. They stop in at his laboratory briefly, return to the park, and, at length, back to his greenhouse. He tells her that he comes from a long line of grape farmers, and he continues to tend the grapes as a hobby and a tribute to his ancestors.
They go back into his house and have dinner, and this time Maarten seizes his opportunity. Although Zus still has to give him some encouragement, he figures it out and shortly afterward, they are having sex. Maarten has finally broken the curse and beaten the deadline