Black Book (2006)
August 19, 2020 5:07 PM - Subscribe

In the Nazi-occupied Netherlands during World War II, a Jewish singer (Carice Van Houten) infiltrates the regional Gestapo headquarters for the Dutch resistance. Paul Verhoeven directs the most expensive (and some say finest) Dutch film ever made.

75% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Available streaming in the US via Amazon Prime or for digital rental via Vudu or Apple TV.
posted by DirtyOldTown (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It is a very good film, and a real revelation, not just for people who only know Verhoeven from his big American blockbusters (or Showgirls), but also for people who only know Van Houten from Game of Thrones. (She played Melisandre.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:44 PM on August 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Is it a tough watch? I've been thinking about catching up with some of his movies I haven't seen, but with everything else that's been going on I've been holding off on things that are a tough sit until I don't feel quite so worn down.
posted by Carillon at 1:35 PM on August 20, 2020

I thought the last scene was jaw-droppingly bleak, but loved that it pulled no punches.

God I love this ridiculous film. It’s like all of Indiana Jones’s Nazi-punching scenes turned into a movie. Carice van Houten is charisma personified, and Sebastian Koch is always great.

This is one of those movies I’d watch on TV if it was on even if I already owned the DVD.
posted by hototogisu at 4:12 PM on August 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Is it a tough watch?

It's a WW2 film more than a holocaust film, and feels to me very much in the thriller genre. I found it substantially less tough than eg Schindler's List but it's certainly not as easy a watch as Starship Troopers. It's not bleak, although bad things happen, people die and there are Nazis and collaborators as well as resistance fighters. It has a lot in common with other TV series I've seen set in Nazi-occupied Europe. The subtitles do provide distance.
posted by plonkee at 4:54 AM on August 21, 2020

Thanks for posting this. It's a great movie and I didn't know it existed.
posted by kingless at 10:14 AM on August 21, 2020

Seeing Verhoeven work straight instead of in hyperbolic satire is pretty amazing. I feel like Black Book sort of treats the Nazi occupation as a malignant but dynamic force that turns some people into exactly what you would expect, lets other people surprise, but leaves few unchanged.

I know he's done some very long, very frank podcast interviews about his American films. I wonder if he has discussed this one at similar length.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:26 PM on August 21, 2020

I've always liked World War II movies in general, but ever since November 2016 I've been extra interested in movies where people murder the fuck out of Nazis.

indieWIRE INTERVIEW | “Black Book” Director Paul Verhoeven
Black Book : Paul Verhoeven Interview
Black Book: Interview with Director Paul Verhoeven
posted by kirkaracha at 9:57 PM on August 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

The thing that struck me as most surprising/disturbing was that a Nazi commander is played as a sympathetic/redeemable character, even though he does very little that I would consider worthy of redemption.
posted by Illusory contour at 2:42 PM on August 24, 2020

I found that very consistent with the film's handling of how the Nazi occupation changed people though. It was a chaotic force that amplified the best or worst of some, pulled unanticipated depths out of others, and stranded other people in various miserable shades of grey. Muntze was the kind of mediocre man with a few finer points who might have been "a good man" in a less challenging time. In this time, he was neither particularly committed to being part of pervasive evil nor sufficiently against it to redeem himself.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:49 PM on August 24, 2020

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