Robocop, Basic instinct, Starship troopers. Some of the biggest grossing Hollywood films of the last two decades. Who does not know these movies? They all are the work of Dutch director Paul Verhoeven. However he started out in Holland as an indie-director, directing influentual films there such as Soldier of Orange and Turkish Delight. This making him one of the most important Dutch filmmakers at the time. Blackbook (zwartboek) is his return to Dutch cinema after all those years in Hollywood.
Just as in Soldier of orange, Zwartboek is a world war two drama. It portrays the Dutch resistance fight against the German occupation of Holland, during the second world war. It tells the story of Rachel Steinn, a Jewish girl living in Amsterdam during the occupation. When the Germans invade Holland, she is forced into hiding as many Jews had to during that time. After almost being discovered by the Germans when her hiding adress gets bombed, she is saved by the Dutch resistance and joins them after loosing all of her family. She wants revenge and is given the opportunity by them as she is send on one of the most important missions to infiltrate into the German’s headquarters.
After making a movie about the positive aspects of the Dutch resistance a few decades ago in Soldier of orange, Blackbook deals with the darker sides of the conflict and how people on the same side, often times would fight for completely different ideals and motivations. This gets pictured perfectly as often times the film plays with the fact of how the moral fiber of people can change at the drop of a hat. Paul Verhoeven himself said about this movie “With Blackbook we wanted to show in an entertaining how the reality was back then. Not black and white, but with a lot of shades of grey”.