The Vanishing

October 27th, 1988


The Vanishing

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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.

Release Year: 1988

Rating: 7.9/10 (13,472 voted)

Director: George Sluizer

Stars: Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, Johanna ter Steege

Rex and Saskia are on holiday, a young couple in love. They stop at a busy service station and Saskia disappears. Rex dedicates the next three years trying to find her. Then he receives some postcards from her abductor, who promises to reveal what has happened to Saskia. The abductor, Raymond Lemorne, is a chilling character to whom Rex is drawn by his intense desire to learn the truth behind his lovers disappearance. The truth is more sinister than he dared imagine.

Writers: Tim Krabbé, Tim Krabbé

Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu - Raymond Lemorne
Gene Bervoets - Rex Hofman
Johanna ter Steege - Saskia Wagter
Gwen Eckhaus - Lieneke
Bernadette Le Saché - Simone Lemorne
Tania Latarjet - Denise Lemorne
Lucille Glenn - Gabrielle 'Gaby' Lemorne
Roger Souza - Manager
Caroline Appéré - Cashier
Pierre Forget - Farmer Laurent
Didier Rousset - TV Journalist
Raphaëline Goupilleau - Gisele Marzin (as Raphaëline)
Robert Lucibello - Teacher
David Bayle - Lemorne (16 Years)
Doumee - Lady 'Prisunic' (as Doumée)

Release Date: 27 October 1988

Filming Locations: Buitenveldert, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The film was submitted to the Academy Awards in 1988 as the official Dutch entry for Best Foreign Language Film. However, the AMPAS disqualified it because they determined that there was too much French dialog in the film to warrant it being a Dutch candidate.

Continuity: Raymond tells Rex that when he was a teenager, he jumped from a balcony and lost two of his fingers. However, the adult Raymond clearly has 10 fingers for the duration of the movie.

Raymond Lemorne: My daughter was bursting with pride. But I thought that her admiration wasn't worth anything unless I could prove myself absolutely incapable of doing anything evil. And as black cannot exist without white, I logically conceived the most horrible deed that I could envision right at that moment. But I want you to know, for me killing is not the worst thing.

User Review

How far would you go to find the truth?

Rating: 9/10

After reading several recommendations of Spoorloos (a.k.a. The Vanishing), I went ahead and bought the Criterion DVD release, which, by the way, has no extras. Let me say, I was not disappointed with the movie. If you like well-made, well-directed thrillers, it is definitely worth checking out. The story was simple enough; Rex's girlfriend mysteriously disappears at a gas station they stopped at while on vacation. Cut ahead three years and you still have him searching for her. Due to his persistence, the man responsible finally decides to get involved.

With very little violence and no gore, Spoorloos was able to leave the viewer in a truly depressing state. Some people might call it boring but I found the slow and steady pace to work in favor of the characters, as the acting was top notch. So was the direction of the scenes, which were set up quite nicely. It was interesting to see such attention paid to both the victim and criminal's point of view. You could really understand the desperation, confusion, and obsession that Rex felt with his loss. In turn, you see cold evil in a form that does exist in our world. While maybe not shocking to all viewers, the ending is terrifyingly tragic, made so by the realism and calmness throughout the film. Just ask yourself, how would you feel if that happened to you?

If pushed for a criticism, I would say that some of the symbolism seemed a bit too heavy handed but other then that, this is an intelligent, deep thriller. I have not seen the American remake (oddly enough, both versions are from director George Sluizer) but I can all but guarantee that the original is what you want to go with first. Many people suggest skipping the remake altogether!


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