A promising beginning
As a country in Western Europe, The Netherlands enjoyed an early introduction into the cinema world, pretty similar to its fellow countries, being introduced as a form of fair entertainment always projecting foreign films. However, in the very early 1896 Gestoorde hengelaar –Disturbed Angler- became the first Dutch fictional film. Years after, Willy Mullens became one of the most important filmmakers in history of his country’s cinema by his pioneering techniques and his comedy film The Misadventure of a French Gentleman Without Pants at the Zandvoort Beach (1905) which remains the oldest surviving Dutch film.
Some up and downs
Dutch cinema enjoyed a flourishing period during the First World War as the country remained neutral and wasn’t affected by the war. In those glorious days Dutch productions reached a number of about 8 films a year with predominance of German directors, escaping from the new national socialist regime. However, during the World War II The Netherlands didn’t have the same luck and were temporally occupied by the Nazi, using its cinema with propaganda purposes.
Among the most notably films released during the Third Reich era are With Germany against Bolshevism (1941), A New Order Arises (1941) and Work in Germany (1942).
After the World War II, Dutch cinema lost the boost was having as a whole but witnessed the coming of great documentary directors and its organization, creating academies and funds dedicated to filming. Those years, during the late 50s, directors like Bert Haanstra rocketed to fame with films like Fanfare (1958) and the Academy Award Winner Glass.
In the 70s, another man changed the history of Dutch cinema. Paul Verhoeven became a box office film director with blockbusters like Katie Tippel (Keetje Tippel, 1975), Soldier of Orange (Soldaat van Oranje, 1977) and Spetters (1980). Those saw Dutch cinema take a step away from documentaries to venture into fiction.
Besides of becoming a renowned blockbusters director in his homeland, Paul Verhoeven gained international fame after his Hollywood films RoboCop (1987), Total Recall (1990), the polemical Basic Instinct (1992), Starship Troopers (1997), and Hollow Man (2000).
After that decade, the early 80s Dutch cinema industry plunged while directors like Dick Maas and the polemical Theo van Gogh started to gain fame with author’s cinema, often portraying their own views of social problems. Nevertheless, this decade gained The Netherlands its second Academy Award. This time was for the acclaimed director Fons Rademakers with 1986's The Assault.
From the 90s till present time, Dutch cinema has focused on TV-films and miniseries, dealing with domestic and adolescence issues. From this era, films like Costa! (2001) and Hush Hush Baby (2004), are among the most notable.