Movies, books, and songs that capture the essence of Amsterdam and get you in the mood for travel

Movies

Turkish Delight (1973)
An early film by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven starring Rutger Hauer, both of whom went onto become Hollywood players; follows the dizzying bohemian life of an Amsterdam artist, and captures the decadent look of the city in the seventies.

Antonia’s Line (1995)
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1996, this story of a family of strong-willed Dutch women evokes Holland’s abiding feminist spirit, and faith in autonomy.

Anne Frank Remembered (1995)
A British documentary that offers the most complete biographical account of Anne Frank’s life and her father’s attempt to keep her memory alive.

Black Book (2006)
Filmmaker Paul Verhoeven, after his Hollywood stint, returned to the Netherlands to film this story of a Jewish resistance fighter surviving the Nazi occupation; ultimately moving despite some gratuitous sex scenes.

Books

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank (1947)
A 20th-century classic; the diary of the young Jewish girl hiding out from the Nazis, yet still sustained by a sense of hope and the memory of Amsterdam’s beauty.

Rituals, by Cees Nooteboom (1980)
Follows a suicidal protagonist as he wanders the streets of Amsterdam, finding redemption in chance encounters; by one of Holland’s most highly regarded novelists.

The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age, by Simon Schama (1987)
A masterwork of a popular history that examines how and why Amsterdam became one of the first truly modern cities.

Amsterdam, by Ian McEwan (1989)
Booker Prize-winning novella featuring a composer desperately trying to finish a work scheduled to premiere in Amsterdam.

On the Water, by Hans Maarten van den Brink (1998)
This poetic novella about two oarsmen training for the Olympics in 1939 captures the last golden Amsterdam summer before the war swept in.

Amsterdam: A Brief Life of the City, by Geert Mak (1999)
A popular historian and storyteller, Geert Mak offers a lively, often surprising story of the city.

Rembrandt’s Eyes, by Simon Schama (1999)
This biography of the painter also evokes the dynamic, multicultural city that embraced him.

Amsterdam, edited by Manfred Wolf (2001)
A gold-star collection of impressionistic essays on Amsterdam’s different faces, by Holland’s leading literary names.

Music

Compilations:

Concertgebouw Series: Dutch Composers and the Concertgebouw CD (2001)
Includes work by Holland’s leading classical composers, including Cornelis Dopper and Willem Pijper, as performed by Amsterdam’s leading Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Jacques Brel (1996)
Although he was a French-speaking Belgian, one of singer-songwriter Jacques Brel’s best known songs is the classic “Amsterdam” (featured on this album of greatest hits), which tells the story of sailors on shore leave in the Port of Amsterdam.

Candy Store, Candy Dulfer (2007)
Latest jazz-funk CD from Dutch-born saxophonist who has toured with everyone from Beyoncé to Pink Floyd, and who represents Amsterdam’s love of jazz.

Café Amsterdam, Various Artists (2005)
Sentimental torch songs (lots of accordions) from Amsterdam’s brown cafés.

Dutch Dance Music, Various Artists (1996)
A look back at recent Dutch pop music, from hip-hop to techno.

Consort Songs, Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet (1996)
A collection of haunting Renaissance songs performed by the world-class quartet.

Classic Songs:

1. “A Windmill in Old Amsterdam” by Freddie & the Dreamers
2. “Amsterdam” by Coldplay
3. “Amsterdam” by Guster
4. “Maid of Amsterdam” by Barry Taylor
5. “Amsterdam” by Van Halen
6. “Amsterdam” by David Bowie
7. “Amsterdam” by John Denver
8. “Radar Love” by Golden Earring
9. “American in Amsterdam” by Wheatus
10. “Amsterdammed” by Lois Lane
11. “The Port of Amsterdam” by The Nits
12. “Diamonds on the Dam” by Des de Moor

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