This brilliantly made war film helped alert Hollwyood to Verhoeven's talents. Loosely based on war hero Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema's memoir, it follows six college friends, showing the different ways in which they coped with the Nazi occupation. Some collaborated, some joined the resistance. Verhoeven is helped immeasurably by charismatic performances from two of the biggest stars of recent Dutch cinema, Hauer and Krabbé. They're old college pals who escape to England, share a girlfriend (the rosy-cheeked Penhaligon) and return to Holland on a mission doomed from the outset. Just occasionally, the film-making becomes self-conscious (certain sequences seem directly inspired by Bertolucci's The Conformist). Verhoeven can't resist throwing in some voyeuristic moments in which couples are spied love-making or cracking crass jokes at the expense of the eccentric Queen Wilhelmina, but he steers clear of jingoism and pomposity. His real coup is in combining the epic with the intimate. Despite a portentous score and often flashy visuals, the characterisation remains subtle and closely focused.