Archive of films The Discovery of Heaven / The Discovery of Heaven

Netherlands / United Kingdom
2001, 134 min

Section: Special Events
Year: 2002

A gently symbolic story about the angels’ attempt to find a human being to bring them back the Ten Commandments. They need to “create” a person who would be fit for the job. They thus pin their hopes on two men whom they encourage to become good friends, and one woman, the attractive cellist Ada. Their relationship results in the birth of the person predestined for the task.…


God has decided to abandon humanity and requests that the tablet containing the Ten Commandments be returned to Heaven. But no angel is able to descend from Heaven to bring it back; a human mediator is required for the job. Under the supervision of the Archangel Gabriel, the young angel entrusted with this vexing task finally finds a solution. And thus, during the 1960s, thanks to a “higher dispensation”, two men become friends – the promising politician Onno Quist and the scientist Max Delius. The two men fall in love with the likeable cellist Ada, the consequence of which is the birth of a son, Quinten. And it is this child who is predetermined to fulfil the mission.… In his second film as director, well-known actor Jeroen Krabbé adapts the novel of the same name by distinguished Dutch writer Harry Mulisch who acknowledges inspiration from the likes of Homer, Dante and Milton. The film defies the usual approach to film production; the extreme “staged” stylisation of Heaven as a dark castle, the home of the sombre angel figures, contrasts with the vitality of the relationship between the three protagonists (reminiscent of Truffaut’s Jules and Jim). Conspicuous are the frequent changes of location (from Holland and Britain to Cuba, Italy and Israel) and the ironic references to period politics.

About the director

Jeroen Krabbé (b. 1944, Amsterdam) studied acting and, apart from appearing on stage, he also designed costumes, translated plays and directed stage productions. He later also studied fine art and is a successful painter. On the silver screen he became established in films by the Dutch director Paul Verhoeven in Soldier of Orange (1977, Soldaat van Oranje) and The Fourth Man (1983, De vierde man). In Hollywood he then created a number of compelling negative characters, for example, in the films No Mercy (1986), Scandal (1989), The Punisher (1989), The Prince of Tides (1991) and The Fugitive (1993). He also appeared in the films Kafka (1991), Stalin (1992), Farinelli (1994) and Immortal Beloved (1994). He had his successful debut as a director with the psychological drama set in the Dutch Jewish community Left Luggage (1997), awarded an EFTA Blue Angel at the Berlin IFF in 1998. His new film The Discovery of Heaven (2001) is an adaptation of the prize-winning book by Harry Mulisch.

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Special Events
Director: Jeroen Krabbé
Screenplay: Edwin de Vries, podle románu Harry Mulische / based on the novel by Harry Mulisch
Dir. of Photography: Theo Bierkens
Music: Henny Vrienten
Editor: Nigel Galt
Producer: Ate de Jong
Production: Mullholland Pictures
Cast: Stephen Fry, Greg Wise, Flora Montgomery, Diana Quick, Neil Newbon, Maureen Lipman, Emma Fielding, Jeroen Krabbé

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