Paul Verhoeven is the director of many films you may remember: Turkish Delight, Robocop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers, and now he has delivered another one–Black Book. But I wouldn’t consider this film to be anything like Starship Troopers especially. It’s huge sequences of war story are full of information and plotlines. It’s had the highest box office tickets in Dutch history, and had the largest budget for any Dutch film, making it the most expensive Dutch film–at 18 million euro. It came out in 2006, but was released in the US just a few weeks ago.
It’s a story about war and resistance, but specifically about a young Jewish singer (Carice van Houten) who dyes her hair blonde and becomes a member of the Dutch resistance after her parents were killed by the Nazi SD. While being a member of the resistance, she becomes a spy in the Nazi headquarters at the Hague, where she is entangled in a love affair, and gets very close the same Nazis who killed her parents. In a framing device at the beginning and end of the film, she is depicted living in Israel with her husband and children. During this time, she encounters Ronnie, her wartime friend and colleague from the SD office, who is now married and on a tourist package trip in Israel. During the war, Rachel (Carice) tells Ronnie she’s a spy. Ronnie says, “Like Greta Garbo?” Then she adds, “You know, Greta got it in the end,” implying that Rachel would die before the film was over. And almost every person in the resistance was killed, except Rachel and Gerben Kuipers, one of the leaders.
The slutty Ronnie reminded me of some sorority girls I’ve been introduced to before. She is only concerned about fame, wealth, and being accepted by the largest amount of people–fitting into the status quo. Ronnie had acquiesced to the occupation; she worked for the Germans, had wild sex with them, let them undress her, let them molest her all over in large groups, and accepted stolen gifts from them. She didn’t care about the Nazis’ torture of Dutch citizens, except she said she found it dull. After the war, instead of being imprisoned and publicly shamed as a collaborator and “Nazi whore” like everyone else, especially Rachel (Carice)–who at one point had piles of shit and puke dumped all over her–Ronnie managed to get herself a key spot in the victory parade and then fell in love with and married a Canadian liberator.
War creates a moral vacuum. There is no morality in war, and the Nazis are not always persecuted. There is no absolute just retribution. Even the Allies could not protect Officer Muntze, who became a member of the resistance by default. A foul Nazi officer took his place, and when Muntze was on trial in front of the commanding Allied officer, the Nazi officer ordered Muntze be executed. When the Allied officer said he wouldn’t accept Nazi execution orders even if they were for his own men, the Nazi cited an Allied document that allowed Nazis to punish their own officers after the war had ended. So they executed Muntze.
I suppose it was implied that the currency and jewels in the coffin with the traitor, Akkermans, were recovered by Rachel and then used to fund the kibbutz on which she lives. An idyllic scene of Rachel and her family at the end is suddenly then interrupted by explosions. An air raid siren goes off, and soldiers take positions in front of the kibbutz. Verhoeven implies that it was October 1956, and the Suez Crisis had just started.