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BLACK BOOK: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten) is hiding in rural Holland in the final stages of the war. When her foster home is destroyed by a bomb, she is rescued by a Resistance fighter and she meets Mr Smaal (Dolf de Vries) a lawyer helping rich Jews escape. But the planned escape ends in slaughter, including Rachel's family. She joins the Resistance and becomes involved with a high ranking SS officer Ludwig Muntze (Sebastian Koch), hoping to gather useful information. As Muntze's conscience steers him towards an unofficial cease-fire with the Resistance, his fellow officers turn on him. Meanwhile, after a failed attempt to free Resistance fighters from the Nazi jail, Rachel is implicated as a traitor to the Resistance and her life is at great risk, as is the life of Muntze.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Paul Verhoeven has invested vast amounts of time (in all, about 40 years on and off) in this film, reading hundreds of documents and developing the script with his collaborator, Gerard Soeteman. The result is an extraordinary, complex and vivid story which drives the film like a locomotive. The research pays off in various ways, such as the avoidance of black and white morality and black and white characters. It also fills the screenplay with twists and turns that keep us not only engaged but on edge.

Unlike so many war films about heroics of resistance fighters against the vile Nazis, Black Book shows a more realistic complexity. (Albeit with an occasional scene that stretches credibility, as when Rachel jumps off a first floor balcony in a bid to escape a traitor.) The story involves all the human frailties and strengths, from betrayals to courage, from hate to love. And it takes us along with its wave of danger as our heroine walks into the belly of the beast with a commitment forged in the fires of terrible events. There is nothing formulaic or fake about Black Book.

The atrocious behaviour of people in war gains a measure of context in this film, and Carice van Houten's wonderful performance decorates it; all her co-stars are equally impressive, and Verhoeven's attention to detail is exceptional. Emotionally involving and visually powerful, Black Book resonates with the human condition at the deepest level.

There's an audio commentary by director Paul Verhoeven on the DVD, plus a 25 minute special feature on the making of the film.

Published November 15, 2007



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

BLACK BOOK: DVD (MA)
(Netherlands/Belgium/UK/Germany, 2006)

Zwartboek

CAST: Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Thom Hoffman, Halina Reijn, Waldermar Kobus, Derek de Lint, Christian Berkel, Dolf de Vries, Peter Blok

PRODUCER: Jeroen Beker, Teun Hilte, Jos van der Linden, Frans van Gestel

DIRECTOR: Paul Verhoeven

SCRIPT: Paul Verhoeven, Gerard Soeteman

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Karl Walter Lindenlaub

EDITOR: Job ter Burg, James Herbert

MUSIC: Anne Dudley

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Wilbert Van Dorp

OTHER: Language: Dutch, German, English, Hebrew

RUNNING TIME: 144 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 5, 2007

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary with Paul Verhoeven, Making of

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: November 15, 2007

DVD RELEASE: Sony Home Entertainment







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