A good way to prepare yourself for a holiday to Amsterdam, is to see a film. Thanks to internet, you have the chance to watch some Dutch films, films about Amsterdam or movies set in Amsterdam.
What are Dutch films like?
Dutch films are famous for exposing a lot of nude. A minimum of explicit sex scenes are a must. The Second World War, being the only war that The Netherlands got itself into in modern day left deep marks in Dutch culture.
The dilemma’s of the war, the difference between ‘wrong and right’, the choices that people make (whether consciously or not) and the effects of those wartime choices have been popular themes in many Dutch books and films. Movies set in The Netherlands are often about the traits that set this country apart from the rest of the world: its progressive laws that try to get a grip on abortion, gay marriage, marijuana and prostitution.
Here is a list of 19 well known Dutch films or movies set in Amsterdam:
1. Diamonds are forever (1971)
James Bond, played by Sean Connery visits Amsterdam in Diamonds are Forever. Most of the shots are taken from the Amsterdam canals. A body is found under the Skinny Bridge.
2. Turkish Delight (Turks Fruit, 1973)
From Holland’s most famous film director Paul Verhoeven, Turkish Delight. A young Rutger Hauer, who later (like Verhoeven) made a career in Hollywood, plays a bohemian sculptor from Amsterdam who falls in love with young girl Olga. The story does not end well, but we see lovely scenes of Amsterdam with an enchanting soundtrack. Based on the novel by Dutch author Jan Wolkers. In 1999 Turks Fruit received the award for Best Dutch Film of the Century.
The following scenes from Turks Fruit will give you an idea of Amsterdam in the 70s.
3. Katie Tippel (Keetje Tippel 1975)
Film by Paul Verhoeven following a family, mainly daughter Katie who tries to make it in Amsterdam around the 1881. Alcoholism, tuberculosis, prostitution and socialism are some of the main ingredients of this drama.
4. Soldier of Orange (Soldaat van Oranje, 1977)
Soldier of Orange, a Dutch film by Paul Verhoeven is considered as one of the best films from The Netherlands ever made, starring Dutch actor Rutger Hauer, who later made fame in Hollywood. The film follows a group of students through the Second World War, showing the choices each one makes.
Watch the trailer:
5. Ciske de Rat
Ciske de Rat is one of Amsterdam’s most famous films. It tells the sorrowful story of Ciske, an 11-year old street kid from a poor quarter of Amsterdam in the 1930s. The film was based upon a novel for children. In the 1984 film, Ciske was played by Danny de Munk who sang the song in the film, which became a classic Amsterdam sing-along-song.
You can watch this black and white version from 1955 on You Tube. It’s an earlier version than the most famous from 1984, with English subtitles.
6. The Assault (De Aanslag, 1986)
Based upon the novel by Holland’s highly acclaimed writer Harry Mulisch, The Assault tells the story of Anton Steenwijk, whose family was murdered by the German Nazis during the Second World War. Years later, Anton tries to find out what happened the night of the assault. Though not set in Amsterdam, but Haarlem, the movie is worth mentioning. The film received an Oscar for best foreign movies in 1987.
It’s difficult to find this Dutch film with subtitles, but you can watch the trailer or buy the book.
7. Amsterdamned (1988)
Amsterdamned was a popular Dutch horror film made in 1988 by Dick Maas. The film is set entirely in Amsterdam, though many scenes were actually shot in neighbouring city Utrecht. A hard boiled detective investigates a series of gruesome murders on the Amsterdam canals, but finds out he is more involved than he thought. The soundtrack made the Amsterdam band Lois Lane rise to stardom.
Watch the entire film with subtitles on You Tube:
8. Amsterdam Global Village (1997)
Documentary by Amsterdam born documentary maker Johan van der Keuken. Van der Keuken developed his own specific style of filming and was mostly interested in global political issues. For Amsterdam Global Village he turns the camera to Amsterdam and its melting pot inhabitants, but soon finds himself in places such as Grozny and Bolivia. Music varies from Dutch DJ 100% Isis to a Ghanian funeral party to Riccardo Chailly in the Concertgebouw.
9. The girl with the pearl Earring (2003)
Drama starring Scarlett Johanssen as Griet, the girl painted by famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, played by Colin Firth. Johannes Vermeer lived in the Dutch Golden Age (17th century) mostly in the city of Delft, but The girl with a Pearl Earring has some shots in Amsterdam as well.
They say the book is better.
10. Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon are out to steal a bond of an old VOC. Seen in the film are the Pulitzer Hotel on Prinsengracht, het Koningsplein, coffee shop De Dampkring, shopping street Kalverstraat, Heiligeweg and Herengracht, as the Amsterdam Tourist Board so kindly points out.
Watch this clip on You Tube where the gang meets at Amsterdam coffee shop De Dampkring (Handboogsteeg).
11. Simon (2004)
Not specifically set in Amsterdam, but Simon is an interesting film because it deals with some Dutch themes that tend to cause a stir abroad: same sex marriage and euthanasia. Simon is about the friendship between a gay dentist and the lawless Jew Simon. The friendship breaks up and when they meet again after 14 years, Simon is terminally ill with cancer.
For sale at Amazon.co.uk.
12. She believes in me (Zij gelooft in mij, 1999)
Award winning Dutch documentary about Dutch singer André Hazes. André Hazes, born and raised in a poor neighbourhood in Amsterdam, became one of the popular singers of The Netherlands, singing songs that I might as well describe as Dutch blues. The documentary shows him and his family on tour and at home while André clearly struggles with stress and alcoholism. The documentary was a huge success and gave André the comeback he longed for, while creating a bizarre cult status. He died in 2004.
Watch the title song Zij Gelooft in Mij mixed with scenes from the documentary:
13. Red Light Blues (2010)
Red Light Blues is an English spoken documentary about the recent changes in the Amsterdam Red Light District. While politicians want to close many of the windows, sex-workers and clients give their own opinion on the future of prostitution in Amsterdam.
14. Meet the Fokkens (Ouwehoeren, 2011)
Remarkable documentary about a 70-year old identical twins who have been working in Amsterdam’s Red Light District over 50 years. Louise is retired, but Martine still sits behind the window and receives customers. The women cheerfully, with a typical loud Amsterdam sense of humor, share their funny stories but at the heart lies a dramatic story of abuse, violence and exploitation. The documentary was a huge success, playing a several of the larger cinemas in The Netherlands and abroad.
15 The Fault in our stars
The fault in our stars in a Hollywood drama about 2 teenagers with cancer fall in love. They also travel to Amsterdam, where they visit the Anne Frank House. A crucial scene is shot while the 2 lovers talk and kiss on a canal side bench. The film was a big succes in the U.S.A. and many American tourists came to look for the bench in Amsterdam. At one point the bench even went missing and the Amsterdam council had to place a new bench. The bench is at Leidsegracht, a short canal in Amsterdam, it’s not easy to miss.
Watch trailer of The Fault in our Stars
16. Paradiso An Amsterdam Stage Affair (2011)
The Paradiso is Amsterdam’s most famous concert hall. The old church was squatted by hippies in 1968 to offer an open stage for creative talent. Since then, many artists have played here (U2, Kurt Cobain, Public Enemy. The documentary tells the history of this club in Amsterdam with a lot of footage from legendary gigs.
Watch the trailer:
17. Dutch influence (2012)
Documentary about the success of the Dutch dj’s and Dutch dances cene in the world. Dj’s filmed and interviewed: Armin van Buuren, Tiësto, Afrojack, Laidback Luke, Headhunterz, Nicky Romero, Hardwell and many more.
18. Pim Fortuyn A democracy in Shock
In 2002, Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated. He was about to win many votes in the upcoming parliamentary elections of The Netherlands. Fortuyn provoked much controversy with his right wing views on immigrations and Islam fears. An animal rights and environmental activist shot Fortuyn. The events sent shock waves through The Netherlands and changed the political climate to this day. The documentary is a reconstruction of the events.
Watch the documentary online (English) on Documentaire net.
19. The Rise of Psychedelic Truffles in Amsterdam (2012)
Documentary by two American reporters of Vice who try out and investigate psychedelic truffles in Amsterdam. The use of Psychedelic truffles (known by its famous example ‘Philosophers Stone’) have gone up since the magic mushrooms have been banned in 2008.
Watch the whole documentary on Documentaire net.
20. Ink and other things (Door ‘t oog van de naald, 2012)
Documentary about Henk Schiffmacher aka Hanky Panky, the Dutch tattoo hero, who opened his own tatto museum in Amsterdam in 2010. It was a struggle.