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Black Book

There’s a scene at the end of Soldier of Orange, Verhoeven’s last Dutch Resistance picture, in which the protagonist, Erik (Rutger Hauer), comes across one of his old friends that he had lost contact with through the war. Erik has worked directly for the Queen, risking life and limb, and ended up becoming a bombadier. His friend laid low, and was none worse for the wear. They met in the old apartment where they had hung out before, with the crowds in the throes of liberation outside their window. His friend pretty much risked nothing during the war, capitulated, went to school, got along, survived.

This is a gut-wrenching coda to the whole movie-and in a way provides the starting point for Black Book, made almost 30 years after Soldier of Orange. You know the movie is going to be a wild ride when the safehouse of Rachel, the protagonist, is destroyed by an Allied bomber dumping its “payload” in order to gain altitude. And she had had to memorize New Testament verses from the family’s patriarch in order to eat! Anti-Semitism ripples under even the “good guys” in the movie, the Dutch Resistance, and Rachel continually has to navigate reversals and betrayals of all stripes that at times stab at her heart, especially during her white-knuckle infiltrations of a German command center. But she soldiers on regardless, even after “liberation.” The fulcrum of the movie shifts after the Germans are defeated, and Rachel has to fight for her life against the “heros”-probably containing some of the most unsettling parts in the movie. (In a way it’s Canadians that save the day, not the Dutch mob.) Carice van Houten really is spectacular as Rachel, who alights her morally gray world with flashes of kinetic brilliance.

See this movie if you can.

Mon, April 30 2007 » Movies/TV

One Response

  1. Jenn Reese April 30 2007 @ 7:22 pm

    I saw the movie a few weeks ago. Although I found some parts of it almost too disturbing to watch, I’m glad I did. Carice van Houten was absolutely fantastic.

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