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Paparelli's Movie Reviews
Well, it's just, like... my opinion, man


Friday, September 15, 2006

this image © Fu Works BVyear: 2006
directed by: Paul Verhoeven
written by: Gerard Soeteman, Paul Verhoeven
notable cast: Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Thom Hoffman, Halina Reijn
Paparelli's rating: (0 = worst, **** = best)

A truly breathtaking movie.

As a movie it's wonderful on all levels. It has an engaging storyline, compelling plot, great characters and it's beautifully filmed. Acting is superb, especially by Carice van Houten, and it's noticable all actors feel comfortable in their parts. This is obviously to be credited to Verhoeven's skills as an actor's director. Also there's lots of great camerawork, and wonderful symbolism.

But there is more to this movie than just a good storyline. This movie gives a seemingly accurate account of how people tried to survive WWII in the Netherlands. I'm not able to judge historical facts or accuracy, but the motives, emotions and actions of the characters in this movie all seem very plausible to me. And knowing that both Soeteman and Verhoeven have experienced the war themselves makes it into a noteworthy impression of what it must have been like in those days.

Living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with the war less than a lifetime ago, I've always wanted to know as much as possible about the war and the holocaust. I've read many books, seen many movies about the subject trying to answer the endless questions. But most, however, deal with historical data and analyses. This movie offers a personal, human perspective on the war in the Netherlands and tries to illustrate, to sketch, to let you experience for yourself what it may have been like. That's why this movie is of such great value to me personally.

It's great to have such an important story told in such an effective and intense way. And it's great that this time it's the Dutch (Soeteman, Verhoeven, the whole crew) who tell their own story about their history in such an effective and intense way.

Themes that appear in great Dutch literary works that deal with the war are recognizable in this movie as well. The helplessness of someone trying to help the resistance but not knowing for sure whom to trust, is for instance a main theme in W.F. Hermans' "Donkere Kamer van Damocles".

The greatest feat of this movie must be the way it puts all pieces of the puzzle, all facts and events, rumors and theories that someone who's interested in the subject would have heard of, into historical perspective and context. The story starts during the war, continues after the war ends, ultimately making the connection to Israël's Suez campaign of 1956. Historical facts from this timeframe are molded into a story that is both entertaining and captivating.

The characters and events are both very plausible and recognizable, both by the writing and by the acting, and this makes the movie tremendously effective in telling its story. Finally I get the feeling I understand a little of what life must have been like in those days in my country.


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