Huis van Liefde is a South African mini-series produced by Curious Pictures and inspired by a true story of a butcher in a small town who loved his wife so much that he had her embalmed, buried her and a year later, exhumed her coffin and brought her back to his farm, where he still keeps her in a specially-made tomb.
It is the third of four South African mini-series that began airing on SABC2 on Tuesdays at 19h30, from 29 January 2008. The others are Land of Thirst, Riemvasmaak and Malan en Kie.
The two-part mini-series aired on SABC2 on Tuesday 18 and 25 March 2008, at 19h30. Each episode is an hour long.
On a moonless night in 1995, an event took place in the cemetery of a small town in South Africa that would shock the world and throw the lives of five people into complete disarray.
On this night Nick Dekker, desperately lonely and unable to cope without his beloved wife Barbara, exhumes her embalmed corpse and installs her in a tomb on his farm.
His two sons, 10-year old Matthew and 9-year old James, are party to this creepy
event and are sworn to secrecy. Nobody must know. And for 12 years, their secret is safe.
Nothing much happens in the quiet town of Bethal and on the surface all seems normal. But on the Dekker farm, a strange ritual plays itself out every night.
After putting the boys to bed, Nick shaves his beard, combs his hair then walks the short distance to the secret tomb where he has installed a small bed for himself.
Why did he do it? What drives a man to dig up the corpse of his wife and resume such a macabre love affair?
Is he crazy?
This is the question that Dr. Benedict Khumalo, a psychiatrist has to answer when Nick arrives at Weskoppies Hospital for the Mentally Ill in 2007 for observation,
exactly 12 years after Nick opened the grave of his wife.
Scorned by the community and committed by his own sons, the relationship between Nick and Barbara is an enigma that Benedict will have to unravel to find an answer to this riddle.
And as the story unfolds, we realise that behind the white picket fences and sunlit verandas of a quite, lazy town like Bethal, you’ll inevitably find a room where the curtains are drawn and in which ordinary people too, keep hidden their secrets, lies and deception.
Educated at Oxford and respected in psychiatric circles, Dr. Benedict Khumalo doesn’t have much time for ghost stories, but with the arrival of Nick at Weskoppies, and the tragic death of his own son, he is suddenly confronted with the a metaphysical world where logic and science simply aren’t enough to explain the bizarre actions of a man who claims to represent the ultimate love story of our time.
Does Nick hold the key to the miracle of resurrection? Is it possible to make contact with the dead? Is it possible that Barbara’s spirit has a hand in the unfolding of events as Benedict embarks on a desperate journey to reclaim his dead son? And what exactly did Nick do every night in that secret tomb with his dead wife?
Matthew and James are not telling either. Growing up with this terrible secret, their own lives seem so desperately derailed.
Can Jamie escape the clutches of his mother and his horrible hallucinations? Is the relationship between Jamie and Emma, a young violinist doomed? What prompted Matthew to betray his own father? And can he forgive his father for loving the dead instead of the living?
Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that beneath Nick and Barbara’s love story lurks a tragedy. Where, for example, was Nick on the night Barbara stepped out of the bath, unaware of the black mamba curled up against the warm water pipe? And why does Angela, Barbara’s older sister, now refuse to come out of her room?
Could guilt be the driving force in Nick’s abnormal behaviour?
Angela has her own cross to bear. Never fond of her wayward sister, she was the one who coveted Nick and wished her own sister dead.
When the secret of the tomb is revealed, Angela has to acknowledge the fact that even in death she cannot compete with her sister. Compared to a corpse, she is still second best.
They were only two small boys when they helped their father lift the coffin onto the pick-up truck that night in the cemetery, but in doing so, they upset the balance of things. They disturbed the order.
It is in the hands Dr Benedict Khumalo, a cynic and non-believer to restore it. Is he up to this task?
One has to believe that he is, because there, on the periphery of the spiritual plane, we see Barbara and Jabu, his son urging him on.
Harriet Gavshon and David JammyProducer
Mariki PretoriusLine Producer
Jan LampenDirector Of Photography
Paul MorkelAssistant Director
Ferdie BurgerProduction Coordinator