Whilst trying to flee Holland in 1944 Rachel Stein, a Jewish
singer, and her family fall foul of the German occupational
forces. Her family is killed and Rachel has to go into hiding.
She is eventually recruited into the Dutch resistance and
uses her, not inconsiderable, charms to seduce and sleep with
Ludwig Muntze, a local SS officer. Although Rachel's dyed
hair disguises her lineage, Muntze quickly discovers the ploy,
but by that time the two are lovers for real. Overcoming prejudices
of race and creed, Muntze uses his power to protect Rachel,
but it's a protection which marks them both out for death...
Book (Zwartboek 2006) is the latest movie from
director Paul Verhoeven and is written in collaboration with
Gerard Soeteman, who has worked mainly in Dutch film and television.
Verhoeven and Soeteman collaborated extensively in the mid
seventies and eighties on films including Flesh and Blood
(1985), De Vierde Man (The 4th Man 1983) and
Keetje Tippel (1975).
has already been on the shelves for some time, so why contemplate
buying the Blu-ray? In a word, quality. The transition to
a high definition version has to be seen to be believed. With
six times more picture quality than a DVD the colours are
more vibrant, the detail stunning. After this, watching the
DVD is a bit like watching your old VHS tapes once you've
seen what Blu-ray can do for a film.
what's even more impressive is that Tartan have also made
the very sensible decision to package each Blu-ray with its
equivalent DVD, so if your still saving for a player then
you can watch the DVD until your new toy arrives.
the technology is still in its relative infancy - and there
is still a format war, which can only hurt both camps, going
on with Blu-ray and HD formats - for a true lover of films
the extra level of detail and the uncompressed audio is a
Book remains as impressive on the second watch as it was
when I reviewed the DVD. The movie does what Pearl Harbour
could not; inject a new lease of life into the war film
genre. Carice van Houton is mesmerising on the screen, her
portrayal of Rachel faultless. Ok, so you have to suspend
disbelief that a Jewish woman would fall in love with a member
of the regime that wiped out her whole family, but is you
can get past this then her relationship with Muntze is at
the same time touching and tragic.
himself is an affable Nazi, trying to negotiate a truce with
the resistance, having realised that the war is all but lost.
Like the character of Rachel, we are asked to ignore Muntze's
presumed previous actions against the Dutch people in order
to make him a more acceptable character. Verhoeven even throws
in Muntz's dead family to garner sympathy from both Rachel
and the audience.
of the great characters in the film is the seemingly, always
sweaty and more than slightly porcine Gunther played by Waldemar
Kobus, who embodies all the irredeemable qualities associated
with movie Nazi's with such gusto, that he quickly becomes
a character you will love to hate.
of the problems of such a new format is the extras which are
usually only up to DVD quality and this remains the same with
Black Book. Tartan has cleverly gotten around this
limitation by placing the three in windows, so as not to shock
the poor audience with the quality of their DVD collection.
you have a Blu-ray player, or intend to buy one, investing
in Tartan's Black Book is a no brainer, great film,
great quality, a format that beats DVD hands down.