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Paul Verhoeven's best film (in fact, his only really good one apart, perhaps, from 'Starship Troopers'
on 14 May 2007
Despite being made in the 1970s, before he became famous, this is by far the best Paul Verhoeven film I have ever seen. Based on an autobiographical account, it chronicles the fate of six Leiden University students (one of them Jewish, one of them half-German) after the Germans invade, concentrating on the experiences of Rutger Hauer's character, who eventually becomes an ADC to Queen Wilhelmina. A lot of Verhoeven's concerns in other films are evident here, notable unpleasant violence, betrayal within the Resistance (not surprisingly given the Dutch experience - if I remember rightly much of the Resistance was compromised by German intelligence fairly early on) and women getting their tops off, but unlike 'Black Book' the story is relatively plausible and, like 'Black Book', the period atmosphere is, barring a few errors, pretty good.
British viewers will be glad to know that a significant part of the middle of the film is in English (with Edward Fox and Susan Penhaligon as a British and his ATS aide), and that the subtitling is, apart from one whopping great mistake, decent.
One of the better war films of the 1970s, I heartily recommend this film to anyone interested in the war, Holland or the careers of Verhoeven or Hauer.