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Black Book (Zwartboek) - Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Thom Hoffman, Paul Verhoeven

Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Holland 1944 - The final years of the Second World War find the beautiful singer Rachel Stein (Carice Van Houten) taking refuge with the Tsjempkema family in rural Holland. Once a popular and wealthy singer, Rachel has been waiting out the war like many Jews in Europe, separated from her family and a moment away from being caught by the Gestapo. Her temporary safe-house is destroyed by an Allied bomber under fire by a German fighter and Rachel is left in the arms of Rob (Michel Huisman), a sympathetic young boy, who promises to help her to safety. The next morning, Rob takes Rachel to her contact in town, who she hopes will help her find her family and escape across into liberated territory.

They arrive at the home of Mr Smaal (Dolf de Vries) and his wife (Diana Dobbleman), a compassionate lawyer who has worked secretly to help Jews escape from Holland. Reluctantly, Mr Smaal arranges for Rachel to join her family and cross enemy lines into Allied territory, marking her name and rendezvous point in a little black leather notebook. But during the dangerous crossing, the boat is ambushed by German troops. The Nazis ruthlessly kill the boats' passengers and Rachel only narrowly escapes by jumping overboard into the river.

The next morning, Rachel is rescued by Gerben Kuipers, one of the leaders of the Dutch resistance. A kind and generous man, Kuipers offers Rachel a job and a safe place to stay. But embittered by the memory of the ruthless murder of her family, Rachel decides to become a resistance fighter to seek revenge against the Germans.

Theatrical propaganda posters

Black Book (Zwartboek) theatrical one sheet imageBlack Book (Zwartboek) theatrical one sheet image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film Netherlands thriller war Dutch Jew Nazi World War II Holland occupation resistance

Persons of interest

  • Carice van Houten .... Rachel/Ellis
  • Sebastian Koch .... Ludwig Müntze
  • Thom Hoffman .... Hans Akkermans
  • Halina Reijn .... Ronnie
  • Waldemar Kobus .... Günther Franken
  • Derek de Lint .... Gerben Kuipers
  • Christian Berkel .... General Käutner
  • Dolf de Vries .... Notary Smaal
  • Peter Blok .... Van Gein
  • Michiel Huisman .... Rob
  • Ronald Armbrust .... Tim Kuipers
  • Frank Lammers .... Kees
  • Matthias Schoenaerts .... Joop
  • Johnny de Mol .... Theo
  • Xander Straat .... Maarten
  • Diana Dobbelman .... Mrs Smaal
  • Rixt Leddy .... Anny
  • Lidewij Mahler .... Linda
  • Pieter Tiddens .... Herman
  • Gijs Naber .... Cas
  • Dirk Zeelenberg .... Siem
  • Michiel de Jong .... David
  • Boris Saran .... Joseph
  • Jack Vecht .... Mr Stein
  • Jacqueline Blom .... Mrs Stein
  • Herman Boerman .... Skipper Willi
  • Bert Luppes .... Mr Tjepkema
  • Marisa Van Eyle .... Mrs Tjepkema
  • Heleen Mineur .... Stientje Tjepkema
  • Bas van der Horst .... Jantje Tjepkema
  • Paul Verhoeven .... Screenwriter
  • Gerard Soeteman .... Screenwriter
  • Paul Verhoeven .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

I've never understood the Nazis. Yes, their reasoning has a consistent internal logic ("We are better than everyone else therefore we can do whatever we want to them") but once applied to the real world it is revealed as the defence of a bunch of bullies. Black Book (Zwartboek) shows that the best thing you can do when confronted by a bunch of bullies is to stand up to them.

The downside of this film is that it's around 20 minutes too long. That's mostly because we Australians are descending to the Yank attention span while the Dutch are still at the more intellectual European level. That said, Black Book (Zwartboek) is a great look inside the resistance movements of World War II. Vastly under-supplied with equipment but overflowing with enthusiasm, they were a constant thorn in the side of the German occupying forces, bastards that they were.

Right from the get-go there is tension and as the thrills unfold it ratchets higher and higher. The performances are brilliant from everyone while Paul Verhoeven directs with a masterly hand. It's a well-made film.

The Netherlands, thriller, war movie Black Book (Zwartboek) is directed by Paul Verhoeven and stars Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Thom Hoffman.

Government security censorship classification

MA 15+ (Strong violence, strong coarse language, strong nudity)

Surveillance time

144 minutes (2:24 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 5 July 2007

Cinema surveillance images

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