Home > Reviews > BLACK BOOK [ZWARTBOEK] – Anne Dudley


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Director Paul Verhoeven’s first Dutch-language film since 1983 – and arguably his most critically acclaimed since then too – Black Book, aka Zwartboek, is a World War 2 drama starring Carice Van Houten as Rachel, a Jewish woman in German-occupied Netherlands, who infiltrates the regional SS office on behalf of the Dutch Resistance. Working undercover in the office of the Commandant, Ludwig Muntze (Sebastian Koch), and reporting back to her allies on the activities of the Nazis, Rachel soon finds herself questioning her loyalties when she unexpectedly falls in love with the man on whom she is spying – and who, she knows, is likely to eventually meet his death at the hands of her comrades.

Oscar winner Anne Dudley’s score for the film is fully orchestral, but quite dark and subdued in tone, as one might expect given the film’s dramatic subject matter, and also contains its fair share of dramatic tension and action. The central motif, “Rachel’s Theme”, is a sorrowfully beautiful string lament which forms the cornerstone of later cues such as “In Too Deep”, and during the tragedy-laden finale from “Victims of the Occupation” through to “The Endless River”.

Dudley has often shown a surprising aptitude for solid action and suspense music in her scores, and here cues such as “Escape Through the Marshes”, the marvelously exciting “In Pursuit”, the icy “Escape Plans”, and the dramatic “Escape by Sea” continue the trend.

Every now and again there’s a fleeting moment, a phrase here, a brief performance technique, that sounds like something Basil Poledouris or Jerry Goldsmith might have written – Verhoeven’s two career-long collaborators who have now of course passed away – which makes you wonder what one of them might have brought to the table here. But, irrespective of that, Dudley’s score is more than accomplished, and is one of 2007’s better efforts in the genre.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • A Hundred Years From Today (performed by Carice Van Houten) (2:15)
  • Ich Bin Die Fesche Lola [Live] (performed by Carice Van Houten) (0:56)
  • Ja, Das Ist Meine Melodie (performed by Carice Van Houten) (3:22)
  • Ich Tanze Mit Dir in den Himmel Hinein (performed by Carice Van Houten) (3:30)
  • Rachel’s Theme (1:28)
  • The Black Book (2:18)
  • Escape Through the Marshes (2:42)
  • In Pursuit (3:03)
  • Rachel’s Plan (1:38)
  • In Too Deep (1:56)
  • Shot at Dawn (2:00)
  • Sleeping With the Enemy (3:01)
  • Escape Plans (3:01)
  • The Insider (1:57)
  • Falling Into the Trap (1:45)
  • Confessions of the Night (3:13)
  • Escape By Sea (1:33)
  • A Hero of the Resistance (3:19)
  • Intelligence Gathering (2:05)
  • Rumours of Liberation (2:16)
  • Victims of the Occupation (1:34)
  • Rachel’s Retribution (4:40)
  • The Endless River (2:04)

Running Time: 55 minutes 36 seconds

Milan M2-36525 (2007)

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