The Vanishing (Spoorloos) (1988)

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Released 14-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-2003 Interview with George Sluizer
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo-from the Hollywood remake
Notes-The Golden Egg
Trailer-Ghosts...of the Civil Dead; Insomnia;
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 101:42 (Case: 106)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By George Sluizer

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu
Gene Bervoets
Johanna ter Steege
Gwen Eckhaus
Bernadette Le Saché
Tania Latarjet
Lucille Glenn
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Henny Vrienten

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Vanishing is a Dutch film about one man's obsession to find out the truth about the disappearance of his girlfriend.

    Rex (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu) and his girlfriend Saskia (Gene Bervoets) are heading off to France for a short holiday. After an eventful beginning, the two stop at a service station to refill the car and take a short break. During this stop, Saskia mysteriously vanishes and Rex has no idea why she left him. Over the next three years, Rex continues to search for answers about Saskia's disappearance. He is eventually contacted by a person claiming to have some information. The police dismiss this new source as simply a cruel hoax, but Rex is convinced that this mystery man can tell him what happened to Saskia, and he will go to any lengths to find the truth.

    This low budget independent Dutch film was directed by George Sluizer who later went on to direct the Hollywood remake with the same title starring Jeff Bridges and Keifer Sutherland. Unfortunately, the remake suffered from a number of significant alterations imposed by the US studio that changed the overall feel of the film and it pales against the vastly superior original presented here.

    Surprisingly, this film initially had limited commercial success and was unable to even find a distributor. Eventually, the film was screened at the 1989 Sydney Film Festival and won the award for Best Film. After this recognition, the film was picked up by a number of distributors and received wide critical and box office success. This film was to be considered as the Dutch entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category for the Academy Awards® but had to be removed as the film contains a large percentage of French dialogue. This requirement for local languages was changed by the Academy for subsequent years' judging.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented windowboxed at an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and it is not 16x9 enhanced. The packaging incorrectly states that the transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.75:1.

    The transfer is consistently slightly soft throughout but this is never disruptive. During the dark scenes, the shadow detail displayed is often relatively poor with little information visible in the dark sections of the image. This lack of shadow detail does vary between scenes and is slightly distracting.

    The transfer displays a natural but slightly muted colour palette and this appears to be due to the source material, rather than being a fault of the transfer.

    No MPEG artefacts were detected at any time during the transfer.

    A number of slight aliasing artefacts may be seen during the transfer. Some examples of these may be seen at 0:48, 6:57, 14:46, 73:50, 74:51 and 86:34. All of these artefacts are quite minor and are only minimally disturbing.

    A small number of minor film artefacts may be seen during the transfer. Examples of these artefacts may be seen at 2:32, 3:15, 4:37, 6:53 and 18:26. Each of these artefacts is quite small and is only very minimally annoying. A small amount of grain may be seen during the darker scenes but this is never annoying.

    A small amount of wobble may be seen at 23:05 but this is likely to be due to the original camera mounting and not a fault of the transfer.

    At 79:57, a slight jump in the image may be seen with a few frames obviously missing. This jump lasts for only a small part of a second and is not disruptive.

    A single set of yellow English subtitles is provided on the disc and these are always clear and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    A single Dolby Digital 224 kbps 2.0 mono French and Dutch audio track is provided on the disc. This track is incorrectly flagged as English.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times.

    No dropouts or problems with audio sync were detected at any time during the transfer. A small amount of hiss may be heard during the quiet sections of the transfer but this is never disruptive.

    The original score by Henny Vrienten makes its presence felt throughout but works well with the on-screen action.

    The surround and LFE channels were not utilized during the transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The animated menu is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Feature Introductory Comment by Director George Sluizer (0:21)

    This short introductory comment by Director George Sluizer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is distorted from its correct aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Interview with Director

    This 2003 interview with director George Sluizer is divided into five different sections. During these sections he discusses working on this film and its subsequent remake. These interview segments are presented in a small window within the interview menu page. The following interview segments are provided:

French Theatrical Trailer (1:31)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a French Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and burned-in white English subtitles.

Photo Galley

    This is a collection of seven shots from the Hollywood remake of this film which are of little real value.

Notes: Het Gouden Ei (The Golden Egg)

    The screenplay for this film was written by Tim Krabbé and is based upon his novel The Golden Egg. This single page shows cover art and ISBN information for the Dutch and English translation of the book.

Trailer: Ghosts of the Civil Dead (1:24)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Trailer: Insomnia (1:13)

    This trailer is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. This is the original version of the film that was recently remade in the US staring Robin Williams.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 Criterion Collection version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 Fox Lorber version of this disc misses out on;

    The R1 Fox Lorber release of this disc is a bare bones release and has a 1.33:1 pan and scan transfer. The R1 Criterion Collection release of this disc includes the theatrical trailer as its only extra but does provide a 16x9 transfer at an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. The only significant extra found on the R4 release is the 2003 interview with the director and while this does contain some interesting details I would prefer to have the 16x9 enhanced transfer found on the Criterion Collection release.


    The Vanishing is a highly enjoyable thriller / psychodrama that should be enjoyed by all viewers and is infinitely superior to the disappointing Hollywood remake.

    The video transfer is acceptable but the lack of 16x9 enhancement is very disappointing.

    The mono audio track accurately reproduces the film's original soundtrack.

    The small collection of extras is welcome and the interview with the director provides some interesting insights into the film.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Sunday, June 15, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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