HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Prayer Before Dawn, A
Ragewar
Lowlife
Fashionista
Elizabeth Harvest
Moulin Rouge!
Free Solo
Mifune: The Last Samurai
Stan and Ollie
Girl in the Spider's Web, The
Up from the Depths
Guardians of the Tomb
November Man, The
Overlord
Sebastiane
Lifechanger
Circle of Two
Hell Fest
Oklahoma!
Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The
Vigilante Force
Haunting of Sharon Tate, The
Paradox
Peppermint
Sharkwater Extinction
Isn't It Romantic
Sink the Bismarck!
Possum
Submergence
Slaughterhouse Rulez
   
 
Newest Articles
Killer Apps: The Rise of the Evil 60s Supercomputers
How 1970s Can You Get? Cliff Richard in Take Me High vs Never Too Young to Rock
A Perfect Engine, An Eating Machine: The Jaws Series
Phwoar, Missus! Sexytime for Hollywood
He-Maniacs: Ridiculous 80s Action
All's Welles That Ends Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 1 on DVD
Shut It! The Sweeney Double Bill: Two Blu-rays from Network
Network Sitcom Movie Double Bill: Till Death Us Do Part and Man About the House on Blu-ray
No, THIS Must Be the Place: True Stories on Blu-ray
Alf Garnett's Life After Death: Till Death... and The Thoughts of Chairman Alf on DVD
Balance of Power: Harold Pinter at the BBC on DVD
Strange Days 2: The Second Science Fiction Weirdness Wave
Strange Days: When Science Fiction Went Weird
Ha Ha Haaargh: Interview With Camp Death III in 2D! Director Matt Frame
Phone Freak: When a Stranger Calls on Blu-ray
   
 
  Black Book Dutch CourageBuy this film here.
Year: 2006
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Stars: Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Thom Hoffman, Halina Reijn, Waldemar Kobus, Derek de Lint, Christian Berkel, Dolf de Vries, Peter Blok, Michiel Huisman, Ronald Armbrust, Frank Lammers, Matthias Schoenaerts, Johnny de Mol, Xander Straat, Nolan Hemmings
Genre: War, Adventure
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A kibbutz in Israel, 1956, and a group of tourists arrive to take a look around; one of them hears children singing and peeks through the window of a schoolroom to snap a photograph. The teacher, Rachel (Carice van Houten), stops the singing and asks her not to, then to her surprise she recognises the tourist as someone she knew during the Second World War in Holland. They chat for a while, but after she leaves, Rachel remembers her time in Holland with mixed feelings, for throughout the conflict until 1944 she was a Jewish woman living in hiding with a Christian family who made her memorise parts of The Bible in return for her bed and board. That was how she passed her days, and was sunbathing by the lake in shelter of some reeds when she was surprised by a man sailing a yacht towards her. Getting over her shock proved difficult when this was followed by a damaged bomber in the sky dropping its load to keep aloft and destroying the farmhouse in the process - Rachel was now on the run...

At the time Black Book, or Zwartboek as it was originally known, was released it was the most expensive Dutch film ever made, and all the money was up there on the screen in a vivid recreation of the period. After making Hollow Man and being unsatisfied with the results, director Paul Verhoeven left Hollywood behind to return to the Netherlands and it took him quite some years to get this project off the ground, especially as the script, written with Gerard Soeteman, had taken a couple of decades to perfect. Yet it was worth the wait, as the result was a headlong plunge into adventure that took care not to gloss over the less admirable aspects of wartime, on both sides of the fighting.

Van Houten's lead character is certainly put through her trials, but endearingly Verhoeven and Soeteman are never in any doubt as to her heroism, even if her fellow characters are. At first, she hooks up with her family for the first time in ages with the promise of escaping to safety in Belgium, but it all goes horribly wrong on a riverboat with many other Jewish refugees when they are ambushed by the Nazis and all but Rachel are murdered. She dives into the water to get away, and is forced to join the Dutch Resistance to survive, dyeing her dark hair blonde (above and below) and changing her name to Ellis as a disguise while getting in deeper with supposed doctor Hans Akkermans (Thom Hoffman), although everyone keeps their true identities secret from one another in case they are captured.

When three of them are indeed captured, Rachel, who has become quite the glamourpuss, goes undercover at the local Gestapo headquarters working as secretary to and becoming the lover of officer Ludwig M√ľntze (Sebastian Koch), who, in typical Verhoeven form, is a more sympathetic German than some of the Resistance fighters are sympathetic Dutch. The filmmakers' refusal to shy away from controversy makes the drama more vital, and enhances the thrill sequences of which there are many. There are still vile Nazis around, and they manage to turn Rachel's committed work in infiltrating them around so she becomes, mistakenly, a villain to the Resistance as well. Exhilarating as all this is, there's still the feeling that this is somehow a romp through World War II, and while the excellent van Houten gives us someone to cheer for, the surface gloss never puts you in any doubt that she'll make it out alive. The final image is still powerful, a reminder that war didn't end with the Second World one and the appetite for destruction continues unabated. Music by Anne Dudley.

[Tartan's Region 2 DVD has an interview with Verhoeven and another with van Houten as extras, along with a trailer.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3441 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Paul Verhoeven  (1938 - )

Dutch director who is no stranger to controversy. He became famous in his homeland for violent, sexually frank films such as Turkish Delight, Soldier of Orange (a fine war epic), Spetters and The Fourth Man, after which he moved to Hollywood.

His first American movie, Flesh + Blood, showed he meant to continue as he started, and he was rewarded with the huge hit RoboCop. This began a line of lurid science fiction adventures such as Total Recall, Starship Troopers and Hollow Man, but his sexually-themed Basic Instinct and Showgirls were equally uncompromising.

Verhoeven's sharp sense of humour tempers his over-the-top style, but he frequently sails too close to being ridiculous for many to take him seriously. The war drama Black Book, filmed in his native Holland, raised his standing once more, and his black comedy thriller Elle won great acclaim for star Isabelle Huppert.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Stately Wayne Manor
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Aseels Almasi
   

 

Last Updated: