Monday, September 27, 2010
The Black Book: A Movie Review
A Movie Review
It is the year 1956,and Rachel is a schoolteacher on a small kibbutz in Israel. A tour bus is rolling through, and a friend recognizes her. As they hug, Rachel gets a flashback to when it all began...
It is 1944,an it is a tough thing to be a Jew in Holland. Everyone is in hiding, trying to avoid imprisonment/death at the hands of the Nazi's. Rachel is is hiding,but is casually out boating with a non-Jewish friend when they run up against a German gunboat and must flee to the marshes,to hide. They are discovered by someone claiming to be with the Resistance so they go with him. Rachel goes to an old family friend, who is a lawyer and gives her money/jewels and promises to get her (and her brother/parents) out of Holland. She and her friend are transported out to meet with them, and when night comes everyone is loaded onto a barge to escape. Shortly thereafter, they run into a Nazi gunboat, which shoots and kills everyone except for Rachael, who dives into the water and hides among the reeds as the Nazis tow the ship back to shore and strip the bodies for valuables. She backtracks and goes back to the family friend,who puts her in contact with other resistance fighters. Rachael only has one goal now, to avenge her family. To that end, they travel to the city, carrying with them guns and ammunition. There is a surprise inspection on the train, and Rachael slips into the compartment of top Nazi official,Captain Muntze. She charms him with her knowledge of rare stamps,and avoids detection. (as the Nazi minions would not dream of searching his compartment) Later, the other Resistance fighters tell her she should use her "in" with him to get inside Nazi headquarters. She acquires exceedingly rare stamps, and a few days later, goes to Nazi headquarters and presents them to Muntze. He is delighted with both them and her, and gives her a job as a secretary. She makes friends with the other secretary, and soon discovers the man(Schultz)who murdered her family ALSO works there. Images of that night keep flashing back, every time she sees him,but she pushes through the pain/nausea. Meanwhile, the Resistance stash of guns is discovered and the leader's son is arrested. Rachel "bugs" Muntze's office(under the pretext of decorating for Hitler's party) They soon discover that there is a leak in the Resistance somewhere, the Nazi's always seem to know when Jews are escaping. Rachael builds up a rapport with the other girl, and confides that she is a spy. The other girl, despite her own lack of direction/morals, admires Rachael and keeps her secret. Muntze tells Rachel that he knows she is Jewish, beautiful women do not just fall into one's life(with valuable stamps to boot). Although she is scared to death,Rachael makes a joke out of it,asking him if such physical perfection could possibly be Jewish. The next day, Schultz has Muntze arrested, for cutting a deal with the Resistance. Rachel discovers that she truly loves Muntze and Schultz was in on the "leak" with another Resistance member. (Muntze was actually lenient with the Resistance) The Resistance plans a "bust out" the night of Hitler's party, but they are discovered, and only 2 people escape. Rachael is caught, Schultz rips out the microphone and tells the listing Resistance members that she's a traitor and rigged the entire thing. Then he throws her jail, to be shot at dawn.(with Muntze) Rachel's friend manages to divert all the guards and use another friend to get them both freed.
They escape together, and are hated by both the Resistance and the Germans. Then the end of the war comes, there is celebration in the streets, and someone recognizes Muntze. They race to the home of Rachael's lawyer friend, and Rachael confronts him with the fact that HE is part of the leak, the "go between" with the Germans. He tries to escape, and is shot. Muntze chases him, and is captured. Rachael takes the lawyer's "Black Book" and discovers the names of all his victims, her family is just one of many that were exploited. (He was splitting the spoils with the Nazis) Muntze is taken to British Headquarters, where he is shot the next morning. Rachel is degraded as Nazi Whore, and is smeared in mud and feces. A Resistance doctor rescues her, takes her back to his apartment,gives her a bath/clean clothes and delivers the news about her husband.She is crushed with grief, and he tells her he will "help her" by giving her an injection. Then he says "now, you'll sleep forever," and Rachel looks at the vial label,it is insulin and the doctor is trying to kill her. She grabs a chocolate bar(while the doctor is out basking in the love of the masses), eats it,and throws herself off the balcony. The crowd catches her and gives her something else to eat so she does not die. She goes back to the Resistance leader, who is burying his son, and tells him the truth. They figure out that the doctor is the "leak", as he was also the only one(besides the driver) to survive the headquarters break-in. They capture the doctor & lock him in a coffin with his jewels/cash, and as he screams for his life they look at each other, thinking about their own family members whose lives he was responsible for. Soon, he stops screaming, and they throw him into an unmarked grave, beside a lake.
Flash forward to 1956. Rachel stands beside a lack, her husband and children around her. The money has payed for the Kibbutz..some good out of tragedy.
This movie really makes you think-nothing is black and white, when a Nazi commander is the good guy and so-called members of the Resistance turn out to be ultimate scum.
It makes you realize that there are degregations that even the most vile person on Earth should not be subjected to,things that do not make a person human anymore.(put them in jail, do not dump mud/excrement all over them) This is an incredible movie, a masterpiece in every sense of the word.