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Black Book

By Adam Thomas

Friday April 27, 2007

The problem with WWII is that it gives all wars since a bad name. Sure there is horror and devastation in today’s war zones but the sheer expansiveness of WWII is almost uncomprehensible. They didn’t call it World War Two for nothing. But while it might be easy to look back and envision a time of a black-and-white battle against the evil Nazis, the truth is, in wartime, everything is grey.

Returning to his homeland after his Hollywood foray that gave us Robocop, Starship Troopers and yes, even Showgirls and Basic Instinct, Dutch director Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book is an almost flawless movie about the Dutch Resistance in 1945 Holland, and maybe the best WWII resistance film ever made, and there have been a few. It’s got conspiracies, lewdness, sex, crosses and double-crosses galore, greed, lust and blood, and all of it is totally riveting. Whether it’s Rachel sleeping with a stampcollecting SS officer to infiltrate Nazi headquarters or the Resistance breaking into a Nazi prison to rescue some friends, the film captures the complexity and ambiguity of life in a wartorn world, where the good people are not always that good and even the nasty old Nazis are not always that evil.