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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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NB - Once again Amazon have thoughtlessly and unhelpfully contrived to combine the reviews for two different fims on the same page. This review refers to the US remake.

George Sluizer's original Dutch-French version of The Vanishing (aka The Man Who Wanted to Know) offers one of European cinema's most quietly disturbingly anonymous and everyday sociopaths, feeling his way one step at a time towards murder. If you've seen that version, you probably still can't get the final revelation out of your head, but the film had plenty more to offer than that, playing with chronology, subverting the usual cliches of its 'Lady Vanishes' plot (the hero wants to know what happened to his missing lover far more than he wants her to be alive) and throwing in some excellent characterization. I can only assume that for this 1993 US remake Sluizer was so determined that no-one else was going to get the chance to ruin his film when he was perfectly capable of doing it himself, but few people could have anticipated how comprehensively he trashes his own work. His career never recovered.

Chief culprit is an astonishing performance by Jeff Bridges that has been overthought through in every detail to a truly disastrous level. A friend who produced one of his earliest movies noted that Bridges was a great instinctive actor as long as you stopped him thinking about what he was doing, and this film is the proof of the pudding. Every movement is overly mechanical in its precision, making him look like a rusty clockwork toy, while his voice is a bizarre mixture of Tootsie, Latka Gravas from Taxi and a Dalek who have all been taking elocution lessons from Dok-tah E-ville. No banality of evil here, just a looney walking around with an invisible sign over his head saying "Please. Let. Me. Kill. You. Thank you. For your. Consideration.'

But the blame really needs to be shared out here. None of the performances are good: often, they don't even look good - Keifer Sutherland looks more like a baby hamster than a distraught man at his wits end in the hurried scenes at the gas station, Nancy Travis flounders badly and Sandra Bullock makes no impression at all as the object of his obsession. Not that they're given any help by either director or writer Todd Graff. The script is particularly weak. The chronology has been altered to put the focus firmly on Bridges at the expense of the couple at the opening of the film. Worse is the rush the film is in, draining the life and character from each scene in its race to get to the next. Rather than the high/low mood shifts in the couple's relationship or the apparently casual but careful establishing of the feel of the location, we just get a couple of arguments that give you the impression that he's probably better off without her. As for the new and improved happy ending - standard woman chased by nutter in the woods jeopardy stuff complete with lame `let's end on a joke like a TV cop show' moment - best not go there... which is advice that holds for this entire trainwreck of a movie. Even a shockingly bland and uninspired Jerry Goldsmith score can't do anything for this one.

NB: Please note that due to a glitch on Amazon many of the reviews here are for the superior Dutch version - which definitely IS worth seeing.
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on 14 March 2000
This shoddy remake tries and fails to recapture the suspense and tension of the original. All subtlety is lost in an attempt to appeal to a wider market and the ending is, to put it mildly, a complete cop-out. No-one who recognises the value of its predecessor should venture near this travesty.
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VINE VOICEon 25 April 2013
A couple stop at a motorway services, for fuel and a snack. When he returns to the car, the man finds the girl is missing. He searches frantically for her, but it is all in vain. A long time later, and he receives a communication from someone, claiming to be able to show him where she is. He must meet the man, and go with him.
Sound familiar? This is the original, the first in a long line of pale imitations, remakes, and stolen plots. It is riveting, disturbing, uncomfortable to watch, and a thriller that will leave you feeling that you have seen something completely fresh. At least that was how I felt in 1988, when I first saw this Dutch/French film.
Even today, after many years of plot spoilers, it proves the old adage, that the original is still the best.
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on 21 July 2002
This film relies on things like subtlety, a slow building tension, excellent performances, and THE best ending, rather than the remake, which relied upon ham acting, sudden shocks, and the worst ending EVER!
I have been waiting for this gem of a film to be released since I first saw it in 1990 and I will be ordering it before the week is out!
A work of genius, I can't praise this awsome film highly enough, and I am SO please to be able to get it at last. I'm sorry to be so gushy, but if you like all movies, buy it, if you only like well made, artistic foreign films, buy it, if you love thrillers, buy it.
How the same man made both versions of this film is beyond me, he must have forgotten all he learned second time around.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 October 2014
I had no idea that this 1993 movie, featuring Sarah Bullock in an early big screen role, and leads by Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland and Nancy Travis (talk about a cast!) was a remake of a 1988 Dutch movie. Whilst I've seen reviews suggesting the original was better, I have only seen the remake so can't comment about that or make any comparisons, but I can tell you on how much I enjoyed this one last night.

Although the young (and beautiful) Sandra Bullock's character Diane only appears in the movie at the start and is never seen again, her haunting presence is there throughout the entire film. She is the wife of Kiefer Sutherland's character Jeff, and on the couple's way to their holiday location, she pops into a gas station, where she mysteriously vanishes without a trace.

Still tormented by his girlfriend's disappearance three years later, and despite a new love interest in the form of the annoying, but loyal Rita (played by Nancy Travis), he obsessively longs to find out what happened to Diane on that fateful day, even making regular TV appearances on news station, and ensuring that missing persons posters are still in circulation. It is in many ways, a touching story about a tormented man who is desperate for answers.

One day, after another TV appeal, he receives a letter from Barney (played by Jeff Bridges) who later turns up at Jeff's door to inform him that he is the man he's looking for. Jeff Bridges is completely convincing as the instantly noticeable oddball. Barney takes Jeff in his car, and what follows is a short series of flash-backs where the character talks about his childhood and the lead up to his abduction of Diane, that had me glued to the screen.
For the almost second half on the film, things obviously begin to run at a faster pace, and Barney emerges as a fully blown psychopath with an obsession for having control over people.

Both the original and the remake were directed by the same man, George Sluizer, and although I haven't seen the first, I really enjoyed this 1993 Hollywood adaptation. 'The Vanishing' has a great cast of acting talent, an intriguing plot, and a good finale, which is enough for me to recommend this to anybody who likes a good thriller.
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on 8 October 2010
The overall rating for this film should be 5 Star! A lot of the comments and ratings relate to the US remake of this classic of European cinema. Might be useful to do some housekeeping by moving the comments on the inferior US version elsewhere (where it is deserved), as it drags down the overall star ratings for this film, and makes it very confusing for anyone influenced by the star ratings before reading further..
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on 25 July 2002
George Sluizer's "The Vanishing" is a quintessential piece of European cinema telling the story of a young couple, Rex Hofman (Gene Bervoets) and Saskia Wagter (Johanna ter Steege), whose future takes an ominous turn after stopping at a motorway service station whilst on vacation. Saskia pays a visit to the restroom whilst Rex fetches refreshments and refuels the car but, it soon becomes apparent to Rex that something terrible has happened when Saskia fails to reappear. The scene is then set for this thrilling movie which slowly reveals itself to the viewer with appropriate cut scenes informing the audience of events leading up to Saskia's disappearance, including her kidnapper's cold, methodical planning, lending the movie a wonderfully voyeuristic detachment. Filmed in French with English subtitles, "The Vanishing" climaxes with a suitably unpredictable ending which leaves the viewer slightly disorientated ensuring that this movie will be watched again and again. A modern classic not to be ignored.
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on 4 August 2002
This is an incredibly moving and tormentuous piece of european cinema. Slow paced and intriguing the 'slack' is brought bitterly taut by what can only be described as one of THE best endings in cinema history. Few films emotionally involve the viewer as the 'Vanishing' does - a true masterpiece.
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on 11 April 2005
This is one of the best films I have ever seen. The acting, the story and the... well I don't want to spoil it... YOU JUST HAVE TO SEE IT! Yes it was remade with the same name (which is why some reviews posted here are poor, rating the remake here by mistake) but this is the original and it is superb. Dark -- yes, disturbing -- yes, subtitled -- yes! But a superb example of the art of creating a grippingly suspenseful psychological thriller. And once seen, never ever forgotten. BUY IT - YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!!!
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on 2 March 2004
There isn't a film out there that has an ending that can match this one. If you are to watch only one Worldwide cinema film in your life make it this one. Do not let subtitles put you off, this film is too good to miss. Hauntingly creepy, it walks you down a path where you just don't know what you are going to find when you get there and when you do, it leaves you breathless! A masterpiece.This film is what thriller is all about.
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