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Books, Movies and Music

This section is to help you to better understand - or simply better enjoy - your new home country. There are books - both fiction and non-fiction - either about the Netherlands, or by Dutch authors. Likewise with films. And music by Dutch bands and musicians.

But lookie here, you lot: this really is the audience participation section! Let me know about your favourite Dutch books, movies, and music. Include some details about it, and why you liked it.


The Cow Who Fell in the Canal by Phyllis Krasilovsky, illustrated by Peter Spier, ISBN 0749704977
Lovely little book (purportedly for children!) about Hendrika the cow. She's bored with chewing the cud and making milk... until one day she falls into the canal (much like the one at our Aussie BBQ in Boskoop in July!) and gets to see some more of the Netherlands Recommended by Ruth Boermans

The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank (lots of different editions) Such a famous book that it hardly needs describing.

Diary of a Jewish Dutch girl who spent over two years of WW2 hiding with her family in a secret room behind an office in Amsterdam. They were betrayed, shipped off to a concentration camp, and murdered.

Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracey Chevalier A novel based on the Vermeer painting of the same name. It tells the story of Griet, a young girl working as a maid for the Vermeer family in the 1660s. It subtly paints a vivid picture of Delft at that time - how it looked, how the people lived, what their attitudes to love and life were. I was especially astounded at what Griet found acceptable and unacceptable in her boyfriend. Delft has taken on a whole new life for me, as have Vermeer's paintings.
Recommended by Sandy Moritz

De Mannen van Nederland by Sophie Perrier, ISBN 9058071316
No English translation (yet) but as soon as your Dutch is up to it - this is essential reading!
Written by a French journalist based in NL. Perrier interviewed 30 foreign partners of Dutch men, and asked them how they compare with the men of their own country: what's better, what's not, what's plain weird. Countless women I know here with Dutch partners (including me) exclaimed "you mean it's not just my bloke who's like that??!!" as they read it. Actually, I think it describes the Dutch in general quite well. They have their minus points, but all up they come out pretty well, and that's why we love 'em! Recommended by Sandy Moritz

An Interrupted Life: the Diaries and Letters of Etty Hilversum 1941-43 by Etty Hilversum, ISBN: 095347805X
Described as "the mature Anne Frank". Etty's diaries, written from 1941-1943, describe her life as a 20+ woman in wartime Holland and later in the concentration camps, facing the death of her friends and herself.
Recommended by Mahbod R (an Iranian reader of Aussies in Holland - thanks Mahbod!)


These are all Dutch movies - i.e. almost all in Dutch - but you might still want to rent it from your local video shop. It's good language practice - keep rewinding until it makes a wee bit more sense!


The Discovery of Heaven (2001) directed by Jeroen Krabbé

Haven't seen this yet, but if anyone wants to write me up a (short) review, I'll add it here.
In English!

Jezus is een Palestijn (1999) directed by Lodewijk Crijns
Incredibly funny in parts, incredibly horrifying in others. Young Dutch guy living in an ashram in Holland is hauled out by his sister as their father is dying. His abrupt reintroduction to the "real world" has some weird results. Several religious cults and the Bijlmer plane crash of 1992 play a part. Extraordinary ending.

De Poolse Bruid (1998) directed by Karim Traidia
Slow but sweet movie about a Polish woman who comes to Holland to work as a maid but is forced into prostitution. She escapes and is rescued by a gruff potato farmer from Groningen. Nice scenes about cultural clashes and learning to speak Dutch, and an unlikely romance.

Turks Fruit (1973) Paul Verhoeven Another classic, based on the bestselling book by Jan Wolkers. Like the book it is full of all sorts of sex - much to my amazement I discovered this book is on the Dutch high school curriculum (when they're about 15). Don't be put off - it's also a magnificant romance, and the movie more or less kick started Rutger Hauer's acting career.

Zusje (1996) directed by Robert Jan Westdijk
Complex psychological study of a brother and sister, sharing a flat and a secret past. He is obsessed with filming, and most of the movie is seen through the lens of the video camera he follows his sister around with. The ending is not quite what you expect.


Amsterdamned (1987) directed by Dick Maas
Good scary movie about Something Nasty lurking in the canals of Amsterdam, dragging people into the depths and dismembering them. Nice one for scenes of Amsterdam, and about the way the Amsterdammers (like to think they) live.

De Lift (1983) directed by Dick Maas
Classic Dutch sci fi thriller about a lift (that's right, an elevator) that turns murderous. It's visual enough to be understood even if you don't speak much Dutch.

Spoorloos (1988) directed by George Sluizer Based on the book "Het Gouden Ei" by Tim Krabbé. Will scare the wits out of you, especially the ending. Beware you don't see the doctored U.S. version "The Vanishing" - it changes all the good bits, and gives it a happy ending (of course).


Antonia (1995) directed by Marleen Gorris
Beautiful drama set in a Dutch village, about 3 generations of women, and the matriarch of the family, Antonia. Won the Academy Award for best foreign film in 1995.

Het (1981) directed by Ben Verbong The true story of Hannie Shaft, a member of the Dutch resistance in WW2. Brilliant movie; the simple ending is blood chilling.

Soldaat van Oranje (1977) directed by Paul Verhoeven
Historical drama. WW2 through the eyes of the Dutch, based on the autobiography of Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, a Dutch war hero. Definitely a classic, and you get to see a young Rutger Hauer.


Fanfare (1958) directed by Bert Haanstra
Comedy set in a small village. As a result of a fight, the village brass band splits up and reforms as two bands, both intent upon winning a competition.

Flodder (1986) directed by Dick Maas Not cinematic brilliance, but indisputably a classic. The Flodders are a family of, well, low social standing, shall we say. Criminal tendencies and bad habits, etc etc. The Dutch equivalent of bogans. They're selected for a social experiment and are relocated into a flashy house in a rich neighbourhood. Definitely better than the sequels and TV series of the same name.


Abeltje (1998) directed by Ben Sombogaart
Based on the book by Annie MG Schmidt. The boy who operates a department store lift decides to push the forbidden top button one day, and the lift rockets up and out of the building, taking the lot of them on a trip around the world.

Kruimeltje (1999) directed by Maria Peters
Set in Rotterdam early last century, about an irrepressible homeless ten year old boy and his dog. Not just nice for kids - a great movie about Rotterdam. But be warned: other than the ending, this is not your average feelgood kiddy movie with lots of warm cuddly scenes, although I find it an improvement - you get a bit more of a sense of how rough life would have been for a homeless boy in those days.

Minoes (2001) directed by Vincent Bal Based on the book by Annie MG Schmidt. A cat wakes up to find it has mysteriously turned into a rather shy and perky young woman. She moves into with a journalist - no funny business though; she sleeps in a cardboard box in the corner of the room - and helps him to get news by talking to the other cats. Of course they get to save the town together, discover what happened to her, and live happily ever after. Great movie!


Dutch rock music is not bad at all (especially compared to what comes out of a lot of the other continental European countries). Some sing in English, some in Dutch, some both, and some you just can't tell. I have trusted my sweetie Ad's opinion on which album I should suggest, although not all of the below are necessarily his taste in music!

Acda en de Munnik
Guitarist Thomas Acda and pianist Paul de Munnik began as a cabaret act, and still do in addition to being a singing duo. Mostly accoustic, mostly ballads. All Dutch lyrics. Quite pleasant listening. Suggested album: their first, self titled album " Acda en de Munnik" (1987).

Andre Hazes Chubby, homely singer from Amsterdam, sings tear jerkers (" smartlappen" in Dutch) of a rather personal nature, and is amazingly popular. Also famous for his alcohol capacity. Mostly Dutch lyrics. To hear some of his songs, go to click on " mijn musiek", click on the jukebox and pick a song.


Raunchy female rock singer with a powerful voice and a golden front tooth, winner of the Dutch Pop award 2002. English lyrics. Ad's recommended album: "Together Alone" (1997).

Bløf Soft rock band. Dutch lyrics. To hear some Bløf, and click on the music note.

Doe Maar No longer together, but a legendary Dutch band, still very popular with Dutchies who were teenagers in the 1980s. Style: pop with some reggae elements. Dutch lyrics.

Golden Earring
We all know they sang "Radar Love", but they have produced lots and lots of other albums during their 35 years together, and have been consistently successful in the Netherlands. They're sort of like the Dutch Rolling Stones: almost eligible for old age pension but still rocking on. English lyrics. Recently brought out a compilation album: "The Devil Made Us Do It".

Herman Brood The definitive hard drinking, smack shooting, fast living, bad boy of Dutch rock 'n roll! Did it, lived it, looked it but didn't die it - he chose to jump from the top of the Amsterdam Hilton in 2001 (and it was nice to discover that, like the Aussies, the Dutch have a morbid sense of humour after such events - the Brood jokes were everywhere). Also well known for his paintings.

Herman van Veen
Another eternally popular singer. Ballads, often with quite deep and meaningful lyrics. Has been going for yonks - 30 years not out. Writes a lot of his own stuff, but also does good Dutch covers of songs such as Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne". Also plays violin. Has too many albums to suggest one - try a compilation album for starters. Dutch lyrics.

Kane Rock band, pretty new to the scene, English lyrics. Ad recommends: "So Glad You Made It" (2001). To hear some Kane, go to and click on sounds playground.

Marco Borsato Incredibly popular singer of pop songs of the sort that make girls swoon. Sang at the wedding of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Maxima in 2002. Had an Italian father, but is Dutch, and sings in Dutch. To hear some of his music, got to, click on discography and pick a record and song.

Vliegende Panthers Satirical cabaret trio, also sing quite catchy pop songs. Dutch lyrics. As soon as you can understand Dutch you have to hear their version of " Dikky Dik" - a send up of a weekly segment from the Dutch Sesame Street - it's a cracker!

Zonder Naam Marietje Bey sang under this name, which translates as "singer without a name". Older female version of Andre Hazes (i.e. plump, homely, sang lots of tear jerkers) minus the alcohol. She died in 1998. Dutch lyrics. To hear some songs,

house / dance music
The Netherlands is more well known internationally now (music wise) for its DJs and dance music than for any other sort of music. Some of the well known DJs are DJ Jean and 100% Isis...but we're stabbing in the dark here, as neither of us are house music fans - so how about you younguns sending me in some details to add here, hmmm?

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