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The Vanishing (1993)

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The boyfriend of an abducted woman never gives up the search as the abductor looks on.



(novel), (screenplay)
4,185 ( 216)
2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Maggie Linderman ...
Arthur Bernard
Miss Carmichael
Garrett Bennett ...
Cop at Gas Station
George Catalano ...
Highway Cop
Frank Girardeau ...
Cop at Apartment
TV Host (as Stephen Wesley Bridgewater)
Susan Barnes ...
Rich Hawkins ...


Barney teaches chemisty, and is planning to abduct a woman. Despite methodical planning and countless trial runs he always manages to mess things up. Then Diane, who is traveling with her boyfriend Jeff, unwittingly makes herself an easy target. The story is mainly from Jeff's viewpoint, as he searches for Diane. Barney watches him. Written by Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


If someone you loved mysteriously vanished how far out of your mind would you go to find them? See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for terror and violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

5 February 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El rapto  »

Box Office


$14,543,394 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Kubrick thought Sluizer's 'The Vanishing' the most terrifying film he had seen-even more frightening than 'The Shining,' and it led to Kubrick 'phoning the Dutch filmmaker to discuss editing. See more »


When in the tunnel, Jeff closes the door when Diane is looking for the flashlight. In the next shot, the door can be see open without anybody opening it.. See more »


Barney Cousins: Look, I know you think restoring this cabin is a crazy idea, but what if it's not? What if I'm learning about myself as I go, realizing that if I can do this, I can do anything. So I take a step,I think is this crazy, should I stop?... Then I think, not yet, there's always time to turn back, if I want to so, I take another step... and another... and another... until one day I realize I've crossed that line... and there's no turning back.
See more »


Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! Part 2 (2006) See more »


Written by James Michael Taylor
Performed by Texas Water
Courtesy of Old Hat Records
See more »

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User Reviews

A Bungled Hollywood Movie Killed By Audience & Critic Perceptions
3 August 2014 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

In this remake of the 1988 Dutch film 'Spoorloos' writer Jeff Harriman (Kiefer Sutherland) searches for his girlfriend Diane (Sandra Bullock) who disappeared from a gas station during a road trip they took 3 years earlier.

His new girlfriend (Nancy Travis) tries to help him pick up the pieces of his life but gets increasingly frustrated over his fascination with the mystery. Diane's kidnapper Barney (Jeff Bridges) has his own interest piqued by Jeff.

There still persists the perception that remakes are inferior to originals and that European cinema is artistically superior to Hollywood. This movie is used to illustrate those points. But these are far from the only reasons it flopped.

The casting didn't follow the traditional route. It does not impact the quality of the production and should not be counted as negative. But it deflated the commercial appeal by ignoring the superficial tastes of moviegoers.

Kiefer Sutherland is an actor audiences more readily accept as a darker character than victimized nice guy Jeff. This is well-evidenced by his critical triumph in the movie 'Freeway' three years later as a kidnapper/murderer.

At the time he was also mostly seen bolstering ensemble casts rather than as a conventional male lead. His strong performance should have been enough to carry the film and it would have been had there not been other factors.

Jeff Bridges was more readily accepted by audiences as a nice guy male lead. He wanted to play a creep for a change and did an impeccable job here. But audiences had to look past over 20 years of typecasting to accept him in the role and most couldn't. As a result one of the finest characterizations in his long, distinguished career is overlooked.

No actress could have given a more convincing performance than Nancy Travis in the role of Rita, the heroine. But audiences liked Sandra Bullock better and have always wanted to see more of her which in this case would have meant giving her the more substantial role of Rita than the tragic role of kidnapped Diane.

At the time (1991-92 pre-production) how could anyone know that Sandra Bullock would soon top the box office like few actresses before her? Nancy Travis had been in a string of hits but then little-known Bullock would surpass her as a star within 18 months of the release of this film. Had they known, there can be little doubt Bullock would have played Rita.

The ultimate sin that North American film audiences could not forgive is obvious pandering to their own glaring superficial tastes when it comes to how movies end. The 1988 original European version haunted audiences and made them think because of its dark conclusion. That version didn't have a Hollywood ending and that was its payoff - one meant for an entirely different audience.

The Hollywood version not only wraps up the conflict between the characters differently (rewarding perseverance over intellect, good over evil in typical Hollywood tradition), it also includes a tacked-on, whimsical denouement. North American film audiences DO prefer happy endings with neat and tidy closure.

But expecting them to embrace the glaring implication that they can't handle scary and/or thought-provoking material is an unforgivable insult which could only elicit the kind of derision from reviewers that it has even though the action which leads up to it is far from boring or silly. Had the film been an original with a facile and obtuse resolution it would have been accepted if not embraced.

Hollywood studios obviously have final approval on the cut released to theatres in most instances. A trick some auteurs can employ when attempting to keep the integrity of a darker-themed film is to wait until the deadline before delivering the finished product and including two endings. One ending will be the darker one they want. The other will be the happy ending - one shot and cut so badly that the studio will presumably have to go with the darker ending. This ploy might work if studios cared more about the quality of what they were releasing rather than its box office p potential.

Then there is the release date - February, 1993. What happens in February in Western Culture every year? Valentine's Day! Does this look like a date movie to you? Everything about how this movie was made and marketed invited flop status.

As I said the action which leads up to the finale is far from boring or silly. In fact much of it is quite watchable and on par with (and in many cases identical to) the original. Where it actually improves upon the original is in its addition of a female lead.

Rita is much more interesting than Lieneke - the second girlfriend character in the original an incidental character compared with Rita. Affable, considerate, blessed with work ethic and self-deprecating modesty truck-stop waitress Rita is an unlikely heroine for a Hollywood film.

Indeed truck-stop waitress is an occupation designed for comic relief or passive anonymity in most Hollywood cinema. A female lead can usually portray one only if her character arc ends in her being beneficiary of an extreme reversal of fortune i.e. marrying a rich dude or becoming a supermodel.

Rita doesn't entertain herself with such fantasies but she does have aspirations. When Jeff walks in she remembers him from high school but he doesn't remember her. He pulls out a picture of Diane and asks if she has seen her. Rita says that her mind blots out most of the faces she sees. Yet she remembers him. This is a character that knows what she wants as unromantic as it may seem.

This isn't what North Americans look for in movie heroines if you go by box office and surveys. They may live their lives differently and they even may be happy. But they go to movies to see something else.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Chessy ending.. Jake8761
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The remake is better (sorry, pretentious film-school hacks) petevieira
I bet you didn't notice this, please respond if you did thepimpestsmith188
Great Movie! khirsch-44991
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