The Vanishing (Spoorloos) [1988]

“Sometimes I imagine she’s alive. Somewhere far away. She’s very happy. And then, I have to make a choice. Either I let her go on living and never know, or I let her die and find out what happened. So… I let her die.”

Director : George Sluizer

Writer : Tim Krabbe (novel “The Golden Egg”, and screenplay), George Sluizer (adaptation)

Cast : Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, Johanna der Steege

Story : Saskia was abducted from just a few meters away from Rex while they stopped to rest at a gas station. Nobody saw anything, and nothing was ever heard from her again, that is until the day her abductors, or the one who claims to be starts, writing letters to Rex, taunting him to come and meet him but every single time he went, of course with undercover police officer next to him, he didn’t show. Then on one fateful night the abductors came personally to Rex offering to tell the truth about what happened to Saskia.

What I Liked :

– Saskia or rather Johanna det Steege is such a cutie pie

– oh man, this is an evil-evil story :


– the movie consists of two parts, first we see Saskia and Rex on their trip to France and despite having a heated argument you can see that they are still in that stage of the marriage where the love is still fresh and strong. While at the gas station/rest stop  we witness the moments of sweet happiness you can’t help but feel something is lurking in the shadows waiting to happen, the tension is built up fantastically, you can’t feel it exactly, you just have a bad hunch in the back of your head. Then Saskia goes to buy something and at that moment you just know that it was the last time you saw her. But Rex didn’t know it, and it was more than heartbreaking to watch him slowly realize she is gone.

The second part of the movie plays a couple of years later, Rex has a new lover, but still carries the memory of Saskia in his heart and still searches for her. Then one night an average looking middle-aged man waits for him before his apartment offering up the truth on one condition : he has to go through the same experience as Saskia. Now that is a mean move. How much do you need to know? Is he willing to die just so he can find out already what happened to his lover exactly? I found this twist so tragical, because it’s an open secret that she is dead, there is absolutely no hope that she is alive somewhere, and I don’t even think I’m giving spoilers with stating that, and Rex knows it, still he is standing in front of the man who has robbed him of his wife and contemplates dying over a few bits of information.

Yes, he goes with him.

– there lies such an evil beauty in the story, couldn’t explain why exactly because this is a cold, heart-crunching  and sad movie, upgraded with just a tiny bit of philosophy, few smart lines, great acting, especially Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu   (totally believable in his role, just the perfect match for it) which leaves you with no hope just the thought : damn.

– the truth is I still get bugged by Rex’s decision. I would probably do the same thinking I know the endgame so I’ll be smarter and won’t die, but I’m pretty sure I’d die thinking there’s still time to outsmart the mean man But you are not here to find out if I could die or not. The thing is this is a devilishly good movie in every sense so don’t miss it.

What I Didn’t Like :

it seemed that the biggest effort was put in the story and not behind the camera man, the cinematography was pretty weak. The scenes that got stuck in my mind got there because they had a powerful content behind them, still there is one scene that forecasts what is going to happen to Saskia, but you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out which scene I’m talking about.

– I was too caught up in the story to remember other aspects I didn’t like so this is it

Final Note :

4 out of 4

Interesting facts :

– The central plot of the film (and the novel on which it is based) is from an archetype Urban Legend related to the Paris Exposition of 1901. A woman and her daughter travel to Paris for the exhibition, and whilst the woman unpacks, the daughter goes to a nearby shop. When she returns to the hotel, the mother is gone, and no one in the hotel remembers having seen her (imdb)

– George Sluizer actually filmed an alternative ending in which Raymond Lemorne (the abductor) was caught by the police. This ending was never used or shown as Sluizer thought it would lessen the impact of what had gone before. (imdb)

Trailer :

a bit weird one, too light for this movie






2 thoughts on “The Vanishing (Spoorloos) [1988]

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