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Zwartboek (2006) Black Book

March 31, 2008

I’m not sure why I didn’t like this film.  It’s regarded as one of the best foreign films of last year (it wasn’t shown in the US until 2007) and it tells a tale rarely seen of the Dutch resistance and the good and evil on both sides during the war.  I suppose my biggest problem would be lack of character development for the “bad” guys.  Yeah, it does show good guys can exist on both the resistance and the Nazi sides, and the audience can understand that no matter where fate puts you, you can still try to be a good person.  The whole plot twist of the prison raid being a trap, Franken knowing exactly where Ellis put the bug, Smaal being confronted and showing the black book.  It just seemed to convoluted, too perfect, too arranged, and too absurd.  Especially the part where a Canadian officer would follow through with a Nazi execution order sounded just nuts.  You didn’t see the Russians and Americans killing off the rest of the Jews when they got to the concentration camps, why would it be different for other Nazi orders after the war?

I know many people have a problem with Paul Verhoeven’s way of showing as much nudity and violence in his films as possible.  I think in some films, especially RoboCop and Starship Troopers, he did go way too far.  However I think he held back a lot for this film and didn’t go farther than was necessary to tell the story.  But it really doesn’t deserve the praise it has gotten from critics and wanna-be critics.

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