Riphagen (2016) The True Story of a Dutch Traitor


A couple of days ago, I watched the excellent Dutch movie Riphagen, based on the true story of the “Al Capone of Amsterdam”, Dries Riphagen. I’m still speechless, I was so caught up in the story. What a vile creature.

It’s often difficult to review a movie based on a true story because one doesn’t know how much one can give away. In the case of a movie based on a famous historical figure, it might be OK to give away the ending but I don’t think Riphagen is universally known. That’s why I’ll only write about the beginning. The fact that I was left speechless at the end, will possibly tell you a few things though.

Dries Riphagen was a criminal from Amsterdam who collaborated with the German occupiers during WWII. He befriended Jewish people, sniffing out those with a vast network, and promised them safety and secure hiding places. Hinting at possible searches, he managed to convince them that they should hand over their belongings, jewelry, precious stones, money, for safekeeping. He then had someone take a picture of himself with the Jews he robbed and stored those away, already thinking ahead. If the war would take a turn and Germany would lose, he’d use the photos with these smiling Jews as proof of his good intentions. As soon as he had received all of the possessions of his “charges” he denounced them to the Gestapo, revealing their hiding places.

Using Jews whose families had been deported, he infiltrated the resistance, promising his Jewish collaborators that their families would be saved.

Needless to say, Riphagen wasn’t keen on seeing WWII end but he was cunning enough to use the general chaos to infiltrate the new government. While many traitors and collaborators were caught, Riphagen managed to use his knowledge and cunning to make even more money after the war.

Riphagen is without morals or conscience and such a master manipulator and liar, that he’s even capable of making the authorities believe that some of his crimes were actually committed by people of the resistance. That puts those in great danger but it also triggers their hatred. For the first time, Riphagen does actually fear for his own life as one resistance member has sworn to hunt him down.

That’s where I’ll end my review. If you are not familiar with the story, you’ll like to discover for yourself how it all ends.

While not as flashy as Black Book, this is another highly watchable Dutch movie. It certainly works well as a companion piece. While Black Book is about the Dutch resistance, Riphagen is about Dutch collaboration. I wasn’t familiar with any of the actors, but they were very convincing. Riphagen tells an extraordinary story and offers a lot to think about. Highly recommended.

I couldn’t find a trailer with English subtitles but the movie’s available with subtitles on Netflix


10 thoughts on “Riphagen (2016) The True Story of a Dutch Traitor

  1. Guy Savage says:

    Sounds like Dr Petiot. I’d never heard of him, so now off to look him up.

  2. Guy Savage says:

    It’s on netflix, so I’ll be able to watch it.

  3. Guy Savage says:

    I really ‘enjoyed’ this one and I wouldn’t have heard of it w/o your tip. What a story…..

  4. nem baj says:

    Interesting film indeed, quite the rollercoaster! Thanks for mentioning it in the first place. The leading actor is fantastic, and this ‘bigger than life’ thug often reminded me of ‘Boardwalk Empire’ characters, which is always a pleasure.

    That said, the movie is perhaps a bit too fast for my taste and I was disappointed by Jan, whom I found hardly believable at several moments, not to mention the end. I read there was a TV series before the movie; maybe that particular form is more adapted to such an eventful slice of life – also allowing for a smoother blend of historical context, psychological insights and entertaining suspense.

    • My pleasure. I’m glad you liked it. I do agree with what you said. There were a few moments that seemed rushed or could have been longer.
      I had problems with Jan as well but since it’s a true story, maybe that was really how it happened.
      I wouldn’t mind watching a mini-series.

      • nem baj says:

        I wouldn’t mind several seasons, as pre-war and post-war seem equally interesting when it comes to the main character. And one season per war year at least!

        Btw I found the twists and turn of wartime politics particularly interesting in the movie: they put the moral dilemma most characters are struggling with under a light rarely seen.

      • You’re right about the wartime politics and the chnages fater the war. That alone would justify a longish episode.
        I suppose there would even be a pre-war starnd that could be interesting as Riphagen was a crminal before the war. It would take away the focus on the war but deepen the story of his life.
        It’s just so shocking to think how many of them managed to live a cushy life in Argentina.

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