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The Vanishing (1988)

Spoorloos (original title)
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.



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu ...
Gwen Eckhaus ...
Bernadette Le Saché ...
Tania Latarjet ...
Lucille Glenn ...
Roger Souza ...
Caroline Appéré ...
Pierre Forget ...
Didier Rousset ...
Raphaëline Goupilleau ...
Gisele Marzin (as Raphaëline)
Robert Lucibello ...
David Bayle ...
Lemorne (16 Years)
Doumee ...
Lady 'Prisunic' (as Doumée)


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. Written by Matthew Stanfield <mattst@cogs.susx.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

27 October 1988 (Netherlands)  »

Also Known As:

L'homme qui voulait savoir  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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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. See more »


After the discussion with Lieneke and her departure, Rex sits in front of the computer and a mic is visible in the lower left corner. See more »


Rex Hofman: Sometimes I imagine she's alive. Somewhere far away. She's very happy. And then, I have to make a choice. Either I let her go on living and never know, or I let her die and find out what happened. So... I let her die.
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User Reviews

An absolutely chilling, deeply unsettling horror masterpiece
28 December 2003 | by (Yorba Linda, CA) – See all my reviews

The Vanishing is a movie only those with ice in their veins can ever forget. The direction is absolutely brilliant, from the opening frames until the very end. I felt Saskia's fright when she thought she lost Rex initially, and her description of her dream made me feel chills. When she disappeared, Rex's combination of rage, frustration, anxiety, and grief was torture to watch. A particularly powerful moment was when he slammed the car door shut so hard the window crumbled into pieces.

Watching Rex become consumed in every way by his quest to find Saskia was also extremely difficult to watch, although it was certainly inevitable. I found the professor's description of his actions appalling in many cases, the most notable one being when he fixates on Saskia and we see his POV. Seeing Saskia warmly respond to him was devastating, knowing what would happen. Throughout the film there was an overwhelming sense of doom and isolation, like this was a cruel world where even in the most idyllic settings evil lurked everywhere and attempting to fight it was futile. Rex undergoes one of the most harrowing emotional ordeals of any movie character ever, and when he is at the end of his rope his crucial decision would seem so insane out of context but viewers understand that it really is his only choice. The shock ending, especially the way it was done, almost made me scream, and I will never forget the final shot. The Vanishing could be shown in any film class on direction, as an example of perfection. Material that could have been turned into just a mediocre thriller with would have seemed like a lame twist was turned by George Sluizer into an utterly harrowing filmgoing experience. And that is the right word, because a movie like The Vanishing is not just watched-it is experienced.

I estimate I have seen around 700 movies in my life, and horror is my favorite genre. I have only seen two films that left me so scared that after they ended I couldn't even move. One was Psycho, which I saw 10 years ago when I was only 12. The other one was just this year-The Vanishing.

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