Dutch Resistance On Film: Black Book (2006), Worth A Look

That line delivered by the veteran Dutch actor Derek De Lint is the most interesting line in the film. If you look up this movie you will be told about a Jewish girl, a resistance movement, and World War II. But the film is really an old Hollywood whodunit.

The film starts with a Jewish woman in 1950’s Israel who runs into an old friend from the war. Now were back in 1940’s Holland. Her hiding place gets bombed by the British so she needs a new place to hide. In short order a man claiming to be part of the resistance comes along and says he can get her to Belgium on a boat. Just make sure she brings plenty of money with her. It turns out the rest of her family, who have also been in hiding, are taking this ship too. Then the Nazis come along and slaughter everyone on board except for our hero and loot the corpses. She sees the head Nazi and is determined to get revenge. She joins the resistance and becomes their agent working inside the local Nazi headquarters. Who is really behind these attacks on rich Jews?

The film is all about archetypes. There is the Good Nazi, the Bad Nazi, the Collaborator, the Hero, and the Veteran. Unfortunately, that is all you need to know in order to figure out what happens in the rest of the film. Quite predictable.

However, it can be quite a bit of fun. Especially when our hero not only dyes her hair, but her pubic hair to insure that she doesn’t get spotted as a Jew. Of course dying her eyebrows is too much. Like just about any Verhoeven film, it’s worth a look.

Dutch Resistance On Film: Soldier Of Orange (1977), Worth A Look

If you don’t know who Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema is then you probably aren’t Dutch because he is a bit of a hero of WWII in the Netherlands. However, there is a good chance that you have heard of the actor Rutger Hauer and the director Paul Verhoeven. Hauer is the replicant that attacks Harrison Ford in Blade Runner and the poor SOB that had commies over for dinner in The Osterman Weekend. Verhoeven is the man who brought us the masterpieces Starship Troopers, Showgirls, and Hollow Man. But before these two got out of Holland they made a couple of films together including this swashbuckler through WWII Holland.

Not much to say here. Erik is entering the University of Leiden. The war starts. He joins the Resistance and seeing as he is only the 49th person to get out of Holland, the queen takes notice. He bumbles about for awhile. Drops some bombs, despite being blind as a bat, and then he goes home as the aide-de-campe to Queen Wilhelmina of the House of Orange (hence the title).

Although the plot summary is short, the film is not. It comes in at about two and a half hours. It’s fun, but it was in need of money. Not because what is shown isn’t up to snuff, but because the lack of money meant lack of action and that means that while it’s entertaining we can’t help but wonder what exactly did this man do? At least his buddy in the film, played by the evil doctor from The Fugitive (Jeroen KrabbĂ©), commits the first bicycle ride by shooting in film. Erik tangos with Alex, the Dutch Nazi, he drops some bombs, and walks from place to place occasionally dodging a bullet or bomb.

I watched this film twice and it is hardly the pure patriotic piece it appears the first time through. In fact, there is a sardonic touch to the entire film that you find in Verhoeven’s other films. If you have never seen a Dutch film before then this isn’t a bad place to start.

Dutch Resistance On Film: De Aanslag (1986), Approach With Caution

De Aanslag means The Assault or The Attack in Dutch, but it also means something that clouds your view of the world like condensation on a mirror or glasses. De Aanslag starts during the last days of Nazi occupied Holland while the rest of Europe was liberated, the Dutch still waited for the eventual arrival of the Canadians. Anton and his family are sitting down for a meager dinner when shots ring out. Soon a man is dead in front of their house. Ultimately, Anton is the only one who gets out of the situation while the rest of his family is killed and his house burned to the ground. We never see anything from outside the house.

For the rest of the film we watch Anton go through life without purpose, without a cause. He is trapped in the evening when he and his family despite not collaborating, resisting, or being Jewish had their lives shattered during the occupation. He has chance encounters with people from the past who each in turn reveal more of what happened that night till we finally get the complete picture. The final shot of the film is a copy of the last shot from King Vidor’s The Crowd (1928) where the camera pulls back until the main character is lost in the crowd. Only instead of the man becoming a face in the crowd, Anton is reintegrated back into the flow of time and marches forward with the kids protesting nukes.

I am not going to say this movie is bad because the only version I could get a hold of was a butchered version from MGM on VHS. All the Dutch was dubbed into English, the film was pan and scanned, and the film had 30 minutes removed. I have been provided with a full version on DVD, but I won’t be able to understand the language because there are only Dutch subtitles. However, since very annoying and unnecessary voice-over narration nearly single-handedly ruined the film. I should be able to determine whether this was a massive mistake on director Fons Rademakers part or whether it was MGM’s way of patching over the missing 30 minutes. Till then, approach with caution.

Dutch Resistance On Film: Oorlogswinter (2008), Worth A Look

Who would have made a connection between a film about a childhood interrupted by the last days of Nazi occupation of Holland with Sergio Corbucci’s spaghetti western The Great Silence (1968). Well, director Martin Koolhoven did and that is what you get with Oorgloswinter.

The film starts with a British pilot crashing in a small town. A kid sees it and takes the pilot as his own childlike friend/contribution to the resistance. A lot of snow, a bit of spaghetti western style cinematography, and a very conventional and predictable ending. There is a twist at the end, but it doesn’t really add anything to the story. You can have a good time with it, but don’t expect anything special. The fact that it made it to the short list for Best Foreign Film means that cinema outside the United States is in a sad state.

The only thing to gather here is that there were collaborators working from inside the Resistance for the Nazis.

Dutch Resistance On Film: De Tweeling (2002), Not Recommended

This is an example of the kind of trash that gives a country a bad name cinematically speaking. The film is about two supposedly twin sisters who are separated when they were young. One is raised by Germans the other by Hollanders. World War II comes along and the differences between the two peoples drives the sisters apart. Then they finally resolve their differences in their old age and one of them dies. Simple, down the middle, and played for every ounce of drama.

My biggest complaint about this film was the complete lack of understanding about how to tell parallel stories, cut between them, and how to cut across time. It’s a great example of knowing the tools you need to use, but not having any idea of how to properly use them.

On top of that, the acting is bad, the story is bland, and the directing is sloppy. Avoid this one.

The only thing about the Dutch Resistance that I was able to gleam from this is that some families who hide Jews did it to get coupons from the Resistance for food. Then they would take the coupons and get more food for themselves. Oh and that the Germans were bloody Huns to the Dutch.

Dutch Resistance On Film: Als Twee Druppels Water (1963), Recommended

In occupied Holland a cigar shop owner named Henrikus Ducker lives a dreary existence until one night a man parachutes into his life. The man says he’s from England and that his name is Dorbeck. He looks just like Hennie except he has black hair. In short order, Hennie is catapulted into the world of the Resistance. Or is he?

This is the first Dutch film I have seen that the Dutch can call a contribution to cinema. I am not sure if it has a real message to convey concerning the Resistance except that the Dutch were too afraid to do what’s right.

For reasons I can’t put my finger on, the film reminds me of the Czechoslovakian film Closely Watched Trains. Maybe because they both deal with somebody who is going about living a normal life during Nazi occupation before being thrust into resistance against them. It’s more than that though. It has a similar look and feel to that film as well.

I plan to read the book by Willem Frederik Hermans which might reveal more about the story. As it is, I recommend this film.