Thursday, November 08, 2007

Overlooked Movies: Black Book

In this movie, everything has a shade of grey. There are no people who are completely good and no people who are completely bad. It's like life. It's not very Hollywoodian.~ Director Paul Verhoeven on Black Book

Set in Nazi-occupied Netherlands near the end of the Second World War a young Jewish singer goes into hiding and ends up joining the Dutch resistance after her parents are killed. She infiltrates Gestapo headquarters for the Resistance and finds herself in danger when a traitor betrays the group. As the war ends she is still at risk, with former friends believing she is a traitor and the real traitor wanting to get rid of her to cover their tracks.

Click here to watch the trailer:

To fight the enemy, she must become one of them.

Fun Trivia:
Director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Gerard Soeteman got the idea for the movie while doing research for Soldaat van Oranje. Instead of simply working the controversies surrounding the Dutch Resistance into the already top-heavy screenplay of Soldaat van Oranje, they decided to make a separate movie out of it. Verhoeven and Soeteman wrote the screenplay over a period of almost 20 years, and they finally solved many script problems by making the main character a woman. They read between 700 and 800 historical documents when preparing the script.

The film's strong lead Rachel is based on a number of people who have been merged. Both resistance fighters like Esmée van Eeghen and Kitty ten Have, as well as an artist like Dora Paulsen.

The movie gets it's name Zwartboek or in english Black Book from an all important to the plot black journal book but the Nazis really did have a black book in it was the list of people to be arrested by the Gestapo following a planned Nazi invasion of Britain in the Second World War.

In the opening scene a real pre-war farm was blown up in the municipality Hardenberg. The farm was already declared uninhabitable and ready to be demolished.

At the time of its release, it was the most expensive Dutch film ever made, and commercially also the Netherland's most successful. The film was the official Netherlands entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 79th Academy Awards. It was on the shortlist of nine films competing for a nomination, but it did not make it to the final five, announced on the 23 January 2007.

Carice van Houten did all her own singing for the movie.

Fun Quotes:
Rachel Stein aka Ellis de Vries: Does it never end?

Gerben Kuipers: You met that Muntze on the train, right? And he liked you?
Hans Akkermans: Liked her...? He fell for her!
Rachel Stein aka Ellis de Vries: He just showed me his stamp collection.
Gerben Kuipers: How far would you go with him? For Tim and the others...?
Rachel Stein aka Ellis de Vries: How far...? You mean sleep with him...? I want things to be clear, is that what you mean?
Gerben Kuipers: How far would you go...?
Rachel Stein aka Ellis de Vries: As far as that Muntze wants to go... Okay?


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I am dying to see this movie. Thanks for the post about it!

J.D. said...

Becca, I love you. This movie is just so AWESOME, and van Houten is a goddess. Wowza.

smallerdemon said...

I saw this last December at Butt-Numb-A-Thon 8 (officially called Octobuttnumbathon) and it was without question my favorite movie of all of them that we saw.

It's just an amazing piece of work and it really shows that Verhoeven has a lot of great film making left in him.

Thanks for posting this.

You can see a few clips from it in my BNAT8 Retrospective here:

Becca said...

Dr. Monkey-
Great movie hope you write about it after you see it!

A goddess indeed but I must admit I am more than a bit totally in love with Sebastian Koch who played Muntze. Sigh...he's so dreamy.

What a great name to describe a movie marathon. And yes I'm glad that Verhoeven hade a channce to get away from Hollywood and make this amazing film. I'll have to check out the retrospective!

Anonymous said...

Rebecca! I would love to think your post was a rebuttal to my article on Black Book. In case it wasn't, I feel compelled to register my disappointment in this movie. It really doesn't work as an intelligent, adult oriented thriller, and doesn't have anywhere near enough sex and violence to be entertaining for the kiddies.

That said, you are not the first woman I know who loves this movie, so Verhoeven must have done something right.

I think you should do more columns on overlooked movies.

Dr. Zaius said...

I just want to thank you for putting the Zaius/Gregarious in Tokyo picute on your side bar. Yay!

Becca said...

Hmmm I guess we just have to agree to disagree on this one. I had no problem following the plot in fact I fell in head first and quickly became completely wrapped up in it. Of course I do have a major obsession with Nazi Germany so that may have effected my judgement just a little.

Dr. Zaius-
You are welcome! I've been meaning to do it for awhile and that just seemed like the pefect picture!

Anonymous said...

This movie is FANTASTIC. Even though I had to read the subtitles - I still stayed glue to the tv set after the 3rd time watching it! Well worth the watch!!