In this movie, everything has a shade of grey. There are no people who are completely good and no people who are completely bad. It's like life. It's not very Hollywoodian.~ Director Paul Verhoeven on Black Book
Set in Nazi-occupied Netherlands near the end of the Second World War a young Jewish singer goes into hiding and ends up joining the Dutch resistance after her parents are killed. She infiltrates Gestapo headquarters for the Resistance and finds herself in danger when a traitor betrays the group. As the war ends she is still at risk, with former friends believing she is a traitor and the real traitor wanting to get rid of her to cover their tracks.
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To fight the enemy, she must become one of them.
Director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Gerard Soeteman got the idea for the movie while doing research for Soldaat van Oranje. Instead of simply working the controversies surrounding the Dutch Resistance into the already top-heavy screenplay of Soldaat van Oranje, they decided to make a separate movie out of it. Verhoeven and Soeteman wrote the screenplay over a period of almost 20 years, and they finally solved many script problems by making the main character a woman. They read between 700 and 800 historical documents when preparing the script.
The film's strong lead Rachel is based on a number of people who have been merged. Both resistance fighters like Esmée van Eeghen and Kitty ten Have, as well as an artist like Dora Paulsen.
The movie gets it's name Zwartboek or in english Black Book from an all important to the plot black journal book but the Nazis really did have a black book in it was the list of people to be arrested by the Gestapo following a planned Nazi invasion of Britain in the Second World War.
In the opening scene a real pre-war farm was blown up in the municipality Hardenberg. The farm was already declared uninhabitable and ready to be demolished.
At the time of its release, it was the most expensive Dutch film ever made, and commercially also the Netherland's most successful. The film was the official Netherlands entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 79th Academy Awards. It was on the shortlist of nine films competing for a nomination, but it did not make it to the final five, announced on the 23 January 2007.
Carice van Houten did all her own singing for the movie.
Rachel Stein aka Ellis de Vries: Does it never end?
Gerben Kuipers: You met that Muntze on the train, right? And he liked you?
Hans Akkermans: Liked her...? He fell for her!
Rachel Stein aka Ellis de Vries: He just showed me his stamp collection.
Gerben Kuipers: How far would you go with him? For Tim and the others...?
Rachel Stein aka Ellis de Vries: How far...? You mean sleep with him...? I want things to be clear, is that what you mean?
Gerben Kuipers: How far would you go...?
Rachel Stein aka Ellis de Vries: As far as that Muntze wants to go... Okay?