Etten (film)

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Official theatrical release poster
Directed byMatteo Sutton
Produced byLouis Matthew Montgomery
Matteo Sutton
Written byLouis Matthew Montgomery
Based onEtten: A Republican Musical
by Louis Matthew Montgomery
StarringMichael Owuo
Eliza Roddenhof
Louis Matthew Montgomery
Hugo Roberts
Hannah Harrison
Angelica Li
Nwankwo Mazzi
Music byLouis Matthew Montgomery
CinematographyOlivia-Rose Baker
Edited byHayden Stewart
Distributed byDavid Duhamel Motion Pictures
Release date
April 12, 2020
Running time
160 minutes
Budget€14.2 million

Etten is a 2020 Estmerish sung-and-rapped-through musical film, adapted from the 2015 Globe musical of the same name, using a live stage recording from a number of separate performances of the Globe musical. Matteo Sutton directed the film, and co-produced it alongside Louis Matthew Montgomery, who also wrote and composed the film, while also portraying the eponymous lead character.

The film follows the same plot of the musical; exploring the life of controversial Hennish revolutionary Jan van Etten. The story starts with his humble beginnings in Zilverzee, where he scraped by as a poor shoeshiner following the deaths of his parents. The musical covers his major life events, such as his election as an MP in the First Hennish Republic, his infamous purge of the States-General, his subsequent reign of terror, and his personal life. The end of the film sees a sickly Etten, bedridden, looking out to the audience helplessly, watching his followers jostle over his succession.

The film adaption was released on the April 12, 2020, premiering in a number of theatres, while being released on streaming services two weeks later on April 26. Critics praised the film for its creative direction, noting the innovative formats used to move the story from stage to screen.


Etten centres on the life and times of Jan van Etten, organising his life into two acts; the first focusing on his life leading up to his controversial purge of the States-General, and the second dealing with his reign of terror and death. Other important characters that influenced Etten are included, such as his wife Madeleine Kottier, his compatriot Jurian Brootas and the ghost of Adriaan-Willem I.

Act I

The film opens with an overview of the historical context of the musical, with the ghost of Adriaan-Willem I - the last king of a united Hennehouwe - acting as a narrator. Adriaan-Willem explores the slums of Zilverzee during the time of the First Hennish Republic, lamenting how the division of Hennehouwe along the Zwartwater has caused such misery ("Twilight of a Nation"). Adriaan-Willem stumbles upon a young, orphaned shoeshiner known as Janny, who can see the ghostly Adriaan, with dreams of making it big and ending the injustices he sees in the city ("Janny van Etten"). As the two talk, a group of radical Puriteinen Kasperist preachers make their way through the city, and Janny finds himself enthralled by their powerful words and moral righteousness ("As Pure As You"). Adriaan is dismayed that Janny is listening to the preachers, explaining to Janny how their brand of intolerance is what led to the fracturing of their nation; in response, Janny parrots the Puriteinens, rebukes Adriaan and instead blames the king for the nation's fall, and the two part ways. ("No More Crowns"). Janny joins the Puriteinen Fellowship of Saint Jacob, and earns his way out of the slum as a preacher ("Preach, Shoe Boy").

Seven years later, a young adult Jan van Etten marries Madeleine Kottier in an arranged marriage, and though she feels little love toward him, she is determined to make the relationship work ("Learn to Love Him"). His marriage helps him to rise in the Fellowship, and it isn't long before the lowly shoeshiner has risen to the Fellowship's inner circle; but Etten desires more power, in order to put his vision into action ("More, More, More"). Etten makes a powerful speech to fellow Puriteinens, enthusing the crowd, and earning their respect ("Man of the People"). Etten learns of a plan to run a number of Fellowship-backed candidates in the upcoming elections to the States-General; he maneuvers himself into being one of those candidates, plotting to upturn the broken political status quo from the inside ("The Virus Within"). As Etten awaits the election, he is befriended by fellow Puriteinen Jurian Brootas, and the two bond beneath a tree over a shared love of poetry, becoming close friends ("A Summer's Day").

On election week, the Fellowship-backed candidates sweep into the States-General, and are the largest political grouping, but lack a majority. Etten attempts to negotiate a deal with the bloc of Guild representatives, but he is laughed out of the negotiations on account of his poor background and lack of status; Etten vows vengeance on them ("Not Just a Shoeshiner"). Denied of their majority, the inner circle decide to wait until the next elections, but Etten argues that the time for decisive action was now. The Fellowship leadership disagrees, and threatens to expel him. Etten denounces and murders them, assumimg direct control over the fellowship ("No Country for Old Men"). Etten returns to the States-General, engaging in a scathing debate with the governing parties, in which he decries them as ungodly sinners; they order the guards to detain him, but none obey ("Sinners and Scoundrels"). Madeleine and Jurian speak with one another, worried about Etten given his recent actions, hoping that he will choose tolerance over purity ("God Save Him"). Etten has no plans for tolerance. He gives a rousing speech to soldiers loyal to him, and march them to the States-General. His troops conduct a great purge refusing to allow any members to enter unless they are approved by Etten, and murdering those who refuse to comply. Etten and his followers sit in the building, and he is unanimously elected as Stadtholder ("The Purge").

Act II

A year has passed since the purge of the States-General. Etten recounts the birth of the Sotirian Commonwealth, filling in the audience on the events since the purge. The aristocratic States-General has been replaced by the States-Spiritual, and Etten has usurped control of the republic, leading a theocratic regime ("Let Me Fill You In"). Etten maintains that the positive aspects of his new regime - stability from uniformity and prosperity from Asterian colonies - outweighes any negatives. Madeleine tries to see the best of the situation, but struggles with the weight of her conscience, and whether she should stay loyal to her husband, or tell him that he has gone too far ("Torn"). Jurian lists the new restrictions that have been placed on the Hennish people, such as the banning of of blood sports and of non-religious activity on Sundays, and sarcastically asks whether Nativity is to be banned next. Etten coldly replies that the plan is to do just that. Jurian storms out of the room ("As Pure As You (Reprise)"). Etten tearfully notes how Jurian is his last true friend, and his most trusted ally, and that he can't help but feel something more toward him. He forbids himself of thinking such unholy thoughts ("Only Man for Me").

Jurian retreats to the tree where he and Etten had bonded, and reminisces. Adriaan-Willem appears, to tell Jurian that he must oppose Etten before he goes too far ("Precious is the Past"). Jurian meets with Madeleine, trying to gain her help in stopping Etten. Madeleine declines, but Jurian resolves to try to stop Etten despite the odds ("God Save Him (Reprise)"). Etten makes plans for war with Flamia, but notes that some citizens might side with Flamia ("The War Room"). Constantijn van Daalen suggests a solution; the slaughter and expulsion of any suspected traitors, and the plans are eventually put in motion ("The Greater Good"). A horrified Jurian realises that he is too late as the plan is carried out, and goes to confront Etten ("Make Him Pay"). Etten looks out over the capital of Voorzienigheid, as smoke plumes fill the sky. He muses that sacrafices are neccessary to ensure salvation, and enters into a tirade on the deficiencies of man ("Absent of Virtue"). Jurian confronts Etten, pleading with him to do the right thing. Etten claims he did everything for the greater good. Jurian says he cannot recognise the man Etten has become ("A Summer's Day (Reprise)"). The two duel. Etten defends his regime, while Jurian argues that it is not even Sotirian anymore . Etten defeats Jurian and cries over his corpse, promising to make up for his death by bringing his virtuous regime to all of Hennehouwe ("Make Things Right").

Twenty years pass, and Etten marches into Flamia with an army at his back. His army recalls how the prosperity of the early regime has begun to fade, as pogroms tear the nation apart, and his bellicose attitude damages trade relations ("A World Undone"). The army engages with Flamian forces, and a bloody battle ensues; they put the Flamian capital under siege, but Etten falls to illness in the siege camp, and is hurried back to the capital of Voorzienigheid ("Battle of Herxen"). Etten lays lifeless, stricken with illness, in his deathbed. He peers out into the centre of the room, and overhears notable officers in his army - Constantijn van Daalen, Adriaan Kuypers and Johan de Wet - squabbling over his succession. As he closes his eyes for the last time, the roars of their argument muffle out ("This Is How I Die"). The cast reassemblies for a final song - sans Etten himself - which puts forward the argument that tolerance is the true virtue, not purity ("The Golden Rule").



Musical numbers



Historical accuracy