36 user 16 critic

The Discovery of Heaven (2001)

God is disappointed with the human race and wants his stone tablets back. An angel is given the assignment and, with Gabriëls help, tries to manipulate several humans on earth to get his ... See full summary »


Jeroen Krabbé


Harry Mulisch (novel), Edwin de Vries
3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Maureen Lipman ... Figure 1
Will Bowden ... Angel (as Viv Weatherall)
Jeroen Krabbé ... Gabriel (as Jeroen Krabbe)
Stephen Fry ... Onno
Gillian Barge ... Onno's mother
Nettie Blanken Nettie Blanken ... Coba
Victoria Carling Victoria Carling ... Margareth Quist
Lois de Jong Lois de Jong ... Granddaughter Quist (as Loïs de Jong)
John Franklyn-Robbins John Franklyn-Robbins ... Onno's father (as John Franklyn Robbins)
Geraldine Alexander ... Trees Quist
Nicholas Palliser Nicholas Palliser ... Diederik Quist
Greg Wise ... Max
Emma Fielding ... Helga
Sean Harris ... Bart Bork
Molly Hallam ... Red Haired Protestor


God is disappointed with the human race and wants his stone tablets back. An angel is given the assignment and, with Gabriëls help, tries to manipulate several humans on earth to get his job done. But humans have a will of their own... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Coincidence doesn't exist, everything happens for a reason. See more »


Drama | Fantasy


See all certifications »



Netherlands | UK



Release Date:

25 October 2001 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

A törvény terhe See more »


Box Office


NLG 20,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The wedding scene of Onno and Ada is recorded at same place that director Jeroen Krabbé had his wedding in 1964. Onno is even wearing the exact same tie that Jeroen Krabbé wore at his wedding. See more »


Max: I've discovered you, you bastards!
See more »


Referenced in Brows Held High: Ken Park (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

Great book, mediocre movie.
10 July 2002 | by mennobouwmanSee all my reviews

Okay, just watched the movie and finished the book today too, and here's what I think of it (for what it's worth;). The book is of course one of the many masterpieces of Harry Mullisch, most of the serious critics do at least agree on that and who am I to ignore them (and really, I did think it was a great book). The movie however doesn't make me this enthusiastic.

I think that on every front on which movies can be criticized, there is something to criticize in this one, leaving it to be, at best, a mediocre movie. I wouldn't go as far as to totally banish the movie into the realm of the unseeables (as the only american reviewer on this page suggests), but their is lot that could be done better. First of all an obvious one, often commented on, the speed is to high. Were jumping from one event to another, sometimes without even noticing what has happened in between. The people who have read the book (the readers) will automatically think "oh, well, this and that have happened" which to me still was irritating sometimes, but what's worse, i can imagine that non-readers will sometimes miss the plot. Now, it is logical that you can't show all 900 pages of events and dialogs in a 2 hour movie, but that still makes the movie's story a lot weaker than the book's story. And you miss a lot of layers, since the philosophical, psychological, scientific, political, developmental and historical elements are almost totally absent. What's left is indeed only a love and mystery/adventure story with some pseudo theological semi spiritual edges. That's only a fraction of what made the original story so attractive. And above that, some of the missing elements were quite essential for a good understanding of the story. The movie tries to solve these 'missing links' by some small changes in the story, which I don't object too in principle, but it does make the mystery/adventure story a lot weaker. It doesn't surprise me that the hardest reviews come from the non-readers (my advise to them, read the book!).

Well, perhaps there can still be some good in the entire movie if we see it as the "pictures" that go with the book. A mere illustration of the people and places. It could be this, and it could be a great project. But then I'd expect to see overwhelming acting, great direction, and a script that is beautifully adapted for play. Sadly (and I must add here that this is of course a personal feeling) the movie failed here too. Well, there were two specks of light in this darkness (okay, that's perhaps a bit too strong, but admit that it sounds good!:), Stephen Fry (Onno) and Neil Newbon (Quinten). Luckily two good (not great mind!, Newbon because he's just not great, only good, Fry because he's only great when he's being funny, and although there are some humorous scenes, sometimes he has to be serious too) actors. The rest were okay but nothing special or sometimes even below average (but these are only minor roles, like the girl in the toilet, who greets ada:"Hi Ada!" the 'personal-friend-of-the-director-who-acted-when-she-was-in-high-school'-ness oozes off of it;). And why oh why did Jeroen Krabbé have to give himself a role again? Well, he always seemed pretty vain to me, so probably that's it. Anyway, he's not a terrible actor, but I do think that most actors could have done a better job.

But still, the main actor might be (very) good at their jobs, dialogues were often terrible I think, because of the terrible script. Not even the best actor can change that. Although I almost feel I'm doing the movie injustice be saying it so hard, still.... Well, perhaps this is to be attributed to the speed of the movie, since a lot of info has to come in very short conversations.

As for the direction of the whole movie (which is done by Jeroen Krabbé for those who didn't know), I would say it is mediocre, some times a bit worse, sometimes reasonable. Heaven looked ok to me, but most scenes were not so spectacular. On the one hand this is logical, since they're mainly about the ordinary lives of some people, on the other hand, it would be nice to see the important events a bit more climaxic, in music, cameraviews, etc. Still, I liked some, like the 'conception of Quinten' scene for instance. The Sanctui Sanctorum (if that's what it was, I can only remember the dutch name) however is the other side. But perhaps this is also to be ascribed to the speed of the movie. There's just not enough to time to show you every important event or place or conversation in a restful moment, and that means that you can't really create atmosphere. And at least I think that that's very important, certainly if you want your movie to be an, or even better, the illustration of a book.

Perhaps you could say that the movie tries to tell you both the entire story in a way that everybody (readers and non-readers) will follow it, and to show you the beauty of places, events and conversations that the book evokes, but by doing so fails miserably in both fields. This leaves the non-reader confused over the enthusiasm of the readers, who desperately try to explain to them why the story (and thus the movie) is so great. Really a shame, since the book actually is really really really great. Therefore I shall give it a five out of ten. Now go out, away from you computers and tv's, buy it, and read it! Love and Greetings, Menno

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