- Audio Commentary with Director Paul Verhoeven
- Making of Black Book
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In the darkest days of World War II, Jewish fugitives attempt to escape occupied Holland -- only to face a Nazi ambush. Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten) alone survives the attack and joins the Dutch Resistance to avenge her family. She soon confronts the ultimate test: she must infiltrate German headquarters by tempting Captain Ludwig Mÿntze (Sebastian Hoch). In the heat of passion, he uncovers her duplicity...but keeps her secret. Then Rachel's espionage reveals that a murderous traitor lurks within Resistance ranks. Unable to fully trust anyone, Rachel navigates a minefield of deception and becomes an enemy to both sides. Epic, passionate, breathtaking, Black Book relates an untold story of World War II where the distinctions between good and evil become blurred by the complexities of human nature.
As in Basic Instinct, a lovely lady takes the lead in Black Book, but this time Paul Verhoeven has more than cheap thrills in mind. Towards the end of WWII, Rachel Stein (the vibrant Carice von Houten), a Jewish singer, is living with a gentile family in the countryside. When Allied forces bomb the area, she's forced to flee. On her perilous journey to The Hague (Verhoeven's hometown), brunette Rachel joins the Resistance and changes her identity to blonde Ellis de Vries. Her next order of business: infiltrate Gestapo headquarters. Like many Verhoeven heroines, Rachel aces her assignment--and then some. First, she seduces the handsome Captain Müntze (Sebastian Koch, The Lives of Others), then she falls in love with him. Müntze, who returns her affection, isn't what he appears to be, but their relationship puts both at great risk. At this point, the filmmaker expertly kicks the proceedings into high gear, before concluding on a bittersweet note. Naturally, since this is a Verhoeven picture, there's plenty of wry humor and uninhibited sexuality along the way. Starting with 1985's Flesh + Blood, the Dutch director released an American movie every two to three years. After the poorly received Hollow Man, however, Verhoeven took a six-year break. Black Book, a return to his native Holland, was worth the wait. (He began work on the screenplay in the 1980s.) It works triple-time as a thriller, a tribute to Holland's Jewish population, and a poison pen letter to the Dutch opportunists who would attempt to sell them out. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Carice van Houten plays the sexy heroine who does whatever it takes to infiltrate the Nazis that are occupying the Dutch in the late days of the war. Corruption and intrigue are readily found both within the Nazi ranks and the local population. As the story unfolds, it becomes increasingly hard to know who can be trusted on both sides of the conflict.
This is an extremely well executed film by director Paul Verhoeven, and van Houten gives a riveting performance as the lead actress surrounded by a strong supporting cast. Excellent editing keeps the pace of the film fairly quick despite its two-and-a-half hours in length, and solid set decoration, location selection, and cinematography immerses one quite thoroughly in the period setting. This is a superb drama that I cannot recommend enough.
In this case, it is the 2006 Dutch film Black Book directed by Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct). Two hours twenty minutes of excitement, suspense, and wonderful acting. Dutch actress Carice Van Houten gives a remarkable performance, ably backed up by Sebastian Koch, Derek de Lint, and Thom Hoffman. It is truly a pleasure to watch these fascinating, unfamiliar faces as they put most of our American actors to shame.
Black Book begins in 1944 Netherlands as the Germans hunt down Jews trying to escape to liberated territory before being shipped off to the death camps. Rachel, the protagonist, survives a devilish trap in which her family is murdered and hooks up with the Dutch underground. In her attempt at revenge, we meet Nazis who become human and allies who betray. The mystery of Black Book is about who betrayed whom and when? I won't spoil the story for you but I will say the intelligent, complex script by Gerard Soeteman and Verhoeven kept me guessing up until the very end.
The realistic portrayal of World War II Holland reminded me of an earlier Verhoeven film, Soldier of Orange. He has obviously grown as a director who knows how to tell a good story. He is known for violence and sexual content, but after all Black Book is a war film, not Breakfast At Tiffany's. I'm only sorry I didn't see this exciting film when it was first released, but better late than never. Treat yourself to a copy.
A very good-looking woman becomes involved with the Germans to spy for the Resistance. This is a game of cat and mouse set in occupied Holland where good, evil, truth or lies all become dependent on what one is trying to do at the current time. While the story seems simple, there are a number of layers to it, involving greed, opportunity, fear and love.
The film is over two hours and is in Dutch. You need to be ready to read the subtitles and watch the action. Given the story, there is a good deal of nudity and sexual activity. The film never becomes NC-17 or X rated but this is for adults.
This is one of the best foreign films about World War II. This and Soldier of Orange are the two WWII Dutch I wanted in my library. Paul Verhoeven did both films producing thought provoking and entertaining stories.