Black Book

2006 [DUTCH]

Action / Drama / Thriller / War

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

Carice van Houten Photo
Carice van Houten as Rachel Stein / Ellis de Vries
Halina Reijn Photo
Halina Reijn as Ronnie
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.21 GB
Dutch 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 25 min
P/S 2 / 7
2.33 GB
Dutch 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 25 min
P/S 2 / 15

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Chris_Docker8 / 10

Verhoeven on top form

Director Paul Verhoeven's self-confessed aim is to combine art and business, appeal to a broad audience, and yet still have some endurance. The fame of films like Basic Instinct and Total Recall is lasting, yet they court criticism with their use of sexuality or by playing to the (easily dismissible) sci-fi genre. Graphic sex and violence are common in his movies and, when you add the occasional major flop such as Showgirls, the work of Verhoeven often fails to be taken seriously. Yet Black Book deserves respect. It is a wartime resistance movie on an epic scale, freed of the conventions of British and American war movies, yet bringing their typically high production values to a uniquely Dutch film.

Israel 1956. A Holy Land Tours bus stops off at a Kibbutz. One of the passengers recognises a teacher there, Rachel, from times they had shared during the war. As her friend leaves, Rachel thinks back to Holland in 1944. She was an accomplished cabaret singer but also Jewish. She was in hiding, waiting for the war to end. But chance misfortune means she has to try to make a getaway with some other Jewish people. They are ambushed, and she is almost shot. A little later she starts working for the resistance ('terrorists' as the Nazis call them) and infiltrates the Gestapo, seducing a high ranking officer called Muntze.

What follows is a frantic game of cat and mouse, espionage and counter-espionage. Rachel (now called Ellis) is torn between the horrors inflicted on her friends close-by and the elaborate deceits she tries to play to save them. Gradually it becomes clear that Muntze, anticipating the end of the war, is risking his neck to try to minimize death and suffering on both sides, and one or more of the resistance fighters is selling out to the Nazis to reap rich profits. Muntze, like Rachel, has had to overcome great losses. Their humanity is a bridge that brings them closer.

Rachel/Ellis is played by Carice van Houten, a leading actress of the Dutch screen. Her presence is luminous and charismatic (for British/American audiences, there is the curious sensation of watching someone unknown who radiates star quality with every breath). Her character has to adapt to many contrasting situations yet there is an underlying determination and fast thinking that shines through and makes such changes seem in character and unscripted. We share her emotional struggle and watch her pit her wits against the Gestapo (who are not exactly stupid). The movie is worth seeing for her performance alone.

On the one hand, the film has been minutely researched, based on actual events and characters; on the other it still has the slightly larger than life gloss we might associate, say, with a James Bond film. The escapes are in the nick of time, the sex scenes are steamy, and the plot twists increase exponentially as we get closer to the end.

Not content to portray the unique conditions of Holland during the occupation, Black Book goes on to catalogue post war atrocities and Rachel's eventual journey to Israel. The style and delivery will not appeal to everyone, but Black Book is Verhoeven on top form, delivering grand entertainment that shows his talents (and those of the remarkable Carice van Houten) at their finest.

Reviewed by MartinHafer9 / 10

Definitely worth seeing but DEFINITELY for an adult audience.

"Black Book" is an excellent film about a seldom talked about period and place in history--the final days of Holland during the Nazi occupation. Unfortunately, however, it is not a film for everyone because it is very, very graphic--in many different ways. As a result, it clearly is not a film for everyone and I certainly would not recommend it to kids or the easily offended. It's sad, because with a few edits, this would have been a fantastic film--one for everyone. But, at heart, it's still an exceptional film.

Carice van Houten did a great job in the lead. She played 'Ellis'--a Jewish lady whose hiding place was destroyed in 1944--a year before the war ended. Now with no place to hide, she and her family head to supposed freedom in Belgium (which at this point in time is under Allied control). But they are betrayed in a scheme to loot and then murder all of them. Yet somehow, she escaped and falls into the lap of the Dutch Resistance. There she is soon called upon to do something horrid--to seduce the local head of the SS and thereby infiltrate the Nazis. And, as she's beautiful and a very talented singer, she is soon in a position where she can help the Resistance. But it isn't all that easy. First, many different surprising things occur--and I won't mention them to you because I don't want to spoil the film. But one I will mention is the surprise--as eventually she finds herself in love with her quarry--a Jewish lady falling for and having sympathy for a 'good Nazi'!

Let's talk about the acting. First, it's interesting that van Houten didn't get nominated for a Best Actress award, as she did exactly what another recent great performance did. In "Inglourious Basterds", Christoph Waltz rightly wowed the Academy--with his fine acting AND great multilingual performance. Well, van Houten did the same--speaking four different languages and doing a heck of a performance. Plus, she really allowed the director, Paul Verhoeven, to put her through a hellish performance! The difference, I think, is that "Black Book" was not a Hollywood production AND it was not a nominee for Best Foreign Language film. In addition, can van Houten looked better simply because all her supporting actors did a great job as well. You can't help but give a great performance when those around you are professionals on top of their game.

As for the graphic aspects of the film, the worst was not the nudity (though there was a lot, I could at least understand the purpose to almost all of it) but the gross imagery not necessarily related to the war. Now it did not bother me seeing dead bodies--wars are about death. But I did NOT want to watch people urinate, throw up or have HUGE buckets of human waste dropped on them. Couldn't have been done without this?!

The film, aside from the nasty graphic portions, was nearly perfect. And, despite its length, it was neither over-long nor had any lulls. Exciting, compelling and very different. This is a film you may love but it's a hard one to to respect.

Reviewed by bkoganbing8 / 10

Cause Or Vendetta

Back in the days of the Third Reich when by law it was permissible to treat some people as less than human, it wasn't enough to just kill people. You had to make sure that the state confiscated all their valuables and maybe the state's helpers, helped themselves. And that's what the story of Zwartboek is all about. It's seen through the eyes of a Jewish survivor who did what she had to do to survive.

By the merest chance Carice Van Houten sees her whole family massacred after being scammed out of everything they had by someone who was going to help them and others escape from the Netherlands. Surviving that she finds her way into the Resistance and then because of a chance meeting with a top Gestapo man played by Sebastian Koch with whom she gives her all to find out useful information in general and what exactly happened to her folks in particular.

Zwartboek made over 60 years after the Germans were cleared out of the Netherlands is a mature look back at some terrible times. The Nazis of course are evil, but the Resistance people aren't idealistic heroes. They're allies of convenience in many respects, lots of serious comments about other people's shortcomings are made by characters regarding religion, ethnicity, and politics. Van Houten is accused of caring only about Jews and working on her own personal vendetta.

Sebastian Koch is also a three dimensional character. He's a widower having lost his family in an Allied raid on Hamburg and as such a very easy victim for the charms of Van Houten. But he's also rather ruthlessly seeing which way the wind is blowing and looking to come out of the war alive. Lots of mixed motivations and cross purposes working in Zwatboek.

This German-Dutch production sad to say got no recognition from our own Academy Awards though it seemed to be nominated for something in just about every other country's film society. Shot on location in the Netherlands, Zwartboek is an uncompromising look back at some times that we should be forced to remember.

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