Movies about Amsterdam

by Tanja
Films about Amsterdam: Turkish Delight

A good way to prepare yourself for a holiday to Amsterdam is to see a film. There are many films that take place in Amsterdam or are about Amsterdam. Typical about Dutch films is that there is a lot of nude. Typical movies from Holland also are about the Second World War. 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. 

Here is a list of movies set in Amsterdam.

1. Diamonds are forever (1971)

In the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever a body is found under the Skinny Bridge in the Amstel river. In the scene below James Bond enjoys a canal cruise in the Amsterdam canals.

2. Turkish Delight (Turks Fruit, 1973)

Turks Fruits is Holland’s most famous film. It was made by Dutch film director Paul Verhoeven. In the film, a young Rutger Hauer, who later (like Verhoeven) made a career in Hollywood, plays a bohemian sculptor from Amsterdam. The artists 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.

3. Katie Tippel (Keetje Tippel 1975)

Film by Paul Verhoeven following a family, mainly daughter Katie who tries to make it in Amsterdam in around 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 is another Dutch film by Paul Verhoeven starring Rutger Hauer. It is considered as one of the best films from The Netherlands ever made. The film follows a group of students through the Second World War, showing the choices each one makes.

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 on 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.

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 the best foreign movies in 1987.

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 the 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 cool boat chase on the Amsterdam canals:

8. The girl with the pearl Earring (2003)

The girl with the pearl earring was a painting by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. Supposedly, the painter had an affair with the girl. This story was the basis for the Hollywood film. Griet, the girl, is played by Scarlett Johanssen. Johannes Vermeer is 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.

9. Amsterdam Global Village (1997)

Amsterdam Global Village is a 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. – Learn Dutch with Free Audio and Video Lessons

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.

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12. She believes in me (Zij gelooft in mij, 1999)

Zij gelooft in mij is the title of the award-winning  Dutch documentary about Dutch singer André Hazes. Hazes, born and raised in a poor neighbourhood in Amsterdam, became one of the popular singers of The Netherlands. 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. It have Hazes a cult status. He died in 2004.

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)

Ouwehoere is a 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 success 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)

A 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 immigration 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)

A 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.

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Leave a Reply to Bridge Dale Cancel Reply


Bridge Dale October 12, 2019 - 15:21

If you have been to a place and then you see it in a movie, it just gives a totally different perspective for the whole movie. This is the reason I am interested in finding movies about Amsterdam.

Marc July 22, 2015 - 14:32

Great list of films, thank you! I would also add “Rebelse Stad”, the recent documentary about the PROVO movement, very interesting:

Tanja July 22, 2015 - 16:03

Thanks for the link. Nice site you have, good luck!