I’ve always been a fan of War movies. Particular WW2. I think its because it so recent to my generation and there is so much to learn about it. Equally I think the fashion and style f the 40’s and 50’s is quite possibly the best era for everything. Victory rolls and red lips really do do it for me! This is my review of the 2006 film Zwarteboek // Black Book. I’d definitely give it 5/5! If you’re in to war and spies that is.
Set across an 11 year period across the Netherland and Kibbutz the story follows the life of Rachel Stein / Ellis de Vries (Carice van Houten) as her new identity makes her known. Essential the whole film is a flash back she gets from meeting an old friend who appears where she is working in Kibbutz.
The story takes you back to when Rachel was in hiding from the Nazi’s in a secret
bedroom behind a book case. Very ‘Anne Frank’. Rachel then sees her hiding place bombed by the Jews and is forced to flee when a sympathetic man from the Resistance offers her safe passage with a group of other Jews across Biesbosch from the Netherlands to Belgium. Their trip doesn’t go to plan when a German boat appears in the darkness and murders everyone on board, Rachel manages to escape. Rescued by the Resistance Rachel is then forced to change her appearance and most often her language to become Ellis de Vers, a blonde German woman. As part of her work with the Resistance Ellis’s job requires her to seduce SS-Hauptsturmführer Müntze (Sebastian Koch)whom she later falls in love with. Working for Müntze in the Nazi headquarters she and her Friends at the Resistance try to free their friends until their plans and secrets are leaked and for a moment all seems lost. Love prevails; a love for each other, a love for their country and a love for their religion is all what keeps them going. Prepared to do anything and many times subjected to such cruelty and torture from the Nazi regime the Resistance prevails and The Netherlands is liberated in April 1945. Ellis sees such hatred and loss throughout the film her strength and will to continue is phenomenal.
I’ll be honest the cast is full of unknown Dutch actors to me but I think that makes it all the more charming. Van Houten is such a beautiful actress whom you cannot watch without falling in love with her yourself; throughout the movie she speaks 4 different languages so eloquently her talents are never ending. In the film she is portrayed as a singer, whether or not it actually is her singing in the movie I’m not sure but even so her performance is flawless. Koch is very handsome. I think I would have fallen from him just like Ellis did. Barry Astma was set to play the bad guy but instead the role was given to Thom Hoffman who I was happier to see as a baddy. If you’ve followed my blog for long enough you’ll know I have a bit of a soft spot for Meneer Astma! Another unknown actor to me was the Head of the Resistance Kuipers played by Derek de Lint. Unkown to me until I carried out a little research, this ‘oldie’, and I use that term with endearment, is a handsome devil with a fantastic track record which has seen him in Silent Witness (an English forensic series), The L Word, NCIS and all of a sudden we feel like old friends.
The movie cost €16mm to make and was one of the most expensive Dutch movies ever made!
All in all a brilliant film, a wonderful cast, heartwarming story of good prevailing evil and tale of the purest love for ones home country and ones belief. I watched in on youtube with English subtitles. A slight word of warning, there are very graphic scenes of murder, full frontal nudity (both male and female) and very harsh language. Not exactly a movie for all of the family!
A highly recommended movie from me!
For those intending to watch the movie do not read the following.
Zwarteboek or in English, Black Book; its titled to symbolize the way in which the traitor to the Resistance tracked his dealings naming the victims and the people responsible.