The Vanishing

Movie Information

In Brief: George Sluizer’s The Vanishing (1988) made such an art house splash when it got to the U.S. in 1991 that Hollywood brought the director over to — you guessed it — remake his film in English with a more American-friendly cast. Also called The Vanishing, it earned tepid box office results and a good deal of critical abuse. (It’s not that bad. In fact, there are things about it that I think improve on the original. But the combination of our sense of cultural inferiority and a changed ending made it a whipping boy of a movie that dealt Sluizer’s career a blow from which it never recovered.) Here, in any case, is the original French-Dutch film. It has been likened to Hitchcock, and that’s fair to the degree that the story of a man whose wife mysteriously vanishes is suitably Hitchcockian, as is his quest first to find her and then, as the years pass, simply to know what happened. But the style isn’t Hitchcock’s, nor are the film’s deeper concerns. I’ve never quite liked the movie nearly as well as I’m supposed to (maybe because I guessed the ending early on and felt too often that I was marking time to get there), but I wouldn’t deny its quality, nor its appeal.
Genre: Thriller
Director: George Sluizer
Starring: Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, Johanna ter Steege, Gwen Eckhaus
Rated: NR

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present The Vanishing Friday, May 20, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 828-273-3332,

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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6 thoughts on “The Vanishing

  1. shoggothy

    FYI, on the Wikipedia page for this movie, YOU are the official critical reviewer. I think this may be your brush with fame.

        • Ken Hanke

          Huzzah. I’d rather be remembered for the Charlie Chan commentaries or even for being the breakout quote on Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Babes in Toyland.

  2. Dino

    Only saw this film once. Will never see it again, but rank it as one of the greatest films ever made. It destroyed me. I didn’t guess the ending, though.

    Can’t imagine seeing the American version, mostly because of the alternate ending. Please don’t tell me that that’s one of the ways he improved on the film.

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