Zwartboek

[Screenshot]I wouldn’t expect Verhoeven, based on what I know of his films, to turn to historical drama, but I guess I’m glad he did, because his direction showed the technical aptitude he developed in the ’90s and a somewhat meatier and more nuanced plot. It bears a striking resemblance to another film I’ve enjoyed recently, Musíme si Pomáhat, in exploring the themes of collaboration and the shades of gray in relationships between the conquerors and the conquered in Nazi territory. This story feels mostly very human, and caught up with banality-of-evil issues, stressing the whole day-job-Nazi persona, even in the upper echelons of the occupation. There’s a long-running mystery plot which seems to cheapen the whole story and detract somewhat from its focus, but that’s a minor quibble. Overall, this story is full of well-realized and very human characters, and the film’s sympathies are distributed in unusual and peculiarly sensitive ways. On production values and plot richness, I’d actually put this ahead of Musíme si Pomáhat, while it explores some of the same issues. It’s a bit busier and has enough characters to get distracting, but in other respects it’s a stronger and more engaging film.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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