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Why ‘Spoorloos’ (aka The Vanishing) is the best Dutch movie ever

Rex and Saskia, a young couple in love, are on vacation. They stop at a busy service station and Saskia is abducted. After three years and no sign of Saskia, Rex begins receiving letters from the abductor.

Spoorloos, which is Dutch for vanished without a trace, was made in 1988 on a shoestring budget by George Sluizer. A man who comes from French and Dutch parents, and was slowly making a name for himself back in the eighties.

I call it the best Dutch movie ever, but it’s a 50/50 Dutch/French spoken movie. Because of this, the Academy didn’t approve of the Netherlands sending it in as their entry for the best foreign movie, stating that it featured too much of France. But who needs an Oscar® to prove it’s a great movie right?

Spoorloos is unique in it’s setup because of it’s focus on the abducter as well as the victims. Like the little synopsis already told you, it’s about a Dutch couple who go on a holiday cross country to France, and while stopping for gas in the northern part of France, Saskia (Johanna ter Steege) gets abducted by Raymond LeMorne (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu) leaving her boyfriend Rex (Gene Bervoets) behind scrambling for clues about what happened to her.

You’d be forgiven to think that I just spoiled the entire movie by naming the killer, but it’s this setup from director Sluizer that makes it so unique and utterly compelling.
We follow Mr. Lemorne as he slowly but surely starts fleshing out the idea of abducting a girl, and the movie tells us everything you want to know right up front. But because it does this it elevates the movie to a whole new level. Now you’ve got 2 parties that you’re following and are invested in throughout. And while I think that you’ll be hardpressed to find someone rooting for the killer, you can’t help but get sucked into his whole train of thought.

From the small details all the way up until the abduction, it’s a true to life tale about the sick minds that are walking this earth. This isn’t some kind of Michael Myers from Halloween who you can stab and decapitate and still comes back, this is just your average 40 year old white male who has a sick mind.
What ties it all together is Rex, who reacts the way I would react when this would happen to me.
He gets obsessed over what happened and goes on for well over 3 years to find out what happened on that summerday. You feel for him, and you can’t help but place yourself in his shoes and think about how you would react when your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend would wave to you just before getting you a drink inside a petrol station, and then to never see him or her again.

It’s a testament to director Sluizer and our trio of actors that the story never gets stale or farfetched.
You could question Rex’ behaviour for one moment,but the next you’ll be thinking the same way he is, you want to know what happened.
Even though the movie is still very relevant today, ofcourse it has to be viewed in it’s own day and age. If you would get abducted now the chances are quite high you’ll be featured on at least one security camera or mobile phone. Police could follow gps signals from her phone (provided she had one with her) but aside from that, it’s still a very real and plausible situation.

If you rewatch this movie a second time, and I urge you to do so, you’ll find out how cleverly put together the whole plan is from not only the abducters perspective, but a directors point of view as well.
The story is an adaptation from the novel ‘The Golden Egg’ by Tim Krabbé, but director Sluizer decided to expand on that in terms of character depth.
For all Dutch people reading, this is a fairly commonly known book since it’s featured on every highschool demandatory reading list since the early 90’s.

I know a lot of people who are put off by the fact that it features Dutch and French speaking actors, but if language is the one barrier keeping you away from seeing so many good movies, I urge you to take the leap with Spoorloos.
Just make sure you don’t confuse this with the Kiefer Sutherland remake which doesn’t hold up at all when compared to this beast of an original.

If you are still on the fence about whether or not it’s worth seeing, dont take my word for it but take a look at the Rotten Tomatoes rating for instance, right here: Spoorloos.
To conclude this rather long article, If you are a fan of horror, if you are a fan of world cinema, compelling stories, tension and an expertly executed film, take the leap, and please let me know how you felt afterwards.



3 thoughts on “Why ‘Spoorloos’ (aka The Vanishing) is the best Dutch movie ever

  1. I have only seen a handful of Dutch movies, but Spoorloos is incredible, not just as a Dutch movie but as a movie.

    Posted by AndyWatchesMovies | October 11, 2012, 16:27
    • Thanks for reading and replying Andy. I love Spoorloos, as a movie, as a dutch effort and in general..its a great and powerful piece of cinema and im happy you feel the same way!

      Posted by That Dutch Filmlover | October 11, 2012, 21:00
      • It’s also got one of the best endings in film history, in my opinion.

        Oh, and you’re welcome!

        Posted by AndyWatchesMovies | October 11, 2012, 21:10

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