A look back at this day in film history
November 30
November 2, 2004
Theo van Gogh murdered

On an early Tuesday morning in the fall of 2004, filmmaker/political activist Theo Van Gogh was riding his bike to work when shots rang out. Mohammed Bouyeri, who'd been waiting for him, shot Van Gogh 8 times, killing him on the street. Bouyeri then deeply and savagely cut  open his throat, and stabbed him in the chest, leaving the knife there with a long, rambling note attached. The violent death was not only the tragic end to an original filmmaker, but became the centerpiece in a debate about immigration policies in the otherwise open and tolerant Netherlands. His namesake, his great grandfather Theo Van Gogh, was the brother of the artist Vincent, a fact that gave Theo a heavy artistic legacy. After making a few independent films––his 1996 Blind Date was recently remade––Van Gogh turned to writing polemics, often supporting any number of unpopular causes, and drawing to him lawsuits and threats. In 2004, he and Islamic artist Ayaan Hirsi Ali made Submission, a ten-minute film that used passages from the Qur’an to highlight Islam’s oppression of women.  After the film appeared on Dutch TV, both filmmakers were publicly attack and threatened. While Van Gogh was murdered, the note was primarily aimed against Ayaan Hirsi Ali. After Van Gogh’s death, Hirsi Ali went into hiding, issuing a  commentary on her friend and collaborator: "I am sad because Holland has lost its innocence…Theo's naiveté wasn't that it [murder] couldn't happen here, but that it couldn't happen to him. He said: 'I am the village idiot, they won't hurt me.'"

More Flashbacks
Boy with Green Hair November 30, 1948
The Boy with Green Hair opens

The opening of the pacifist parable The Boy with Green Hair should be celebrated as the feature directorial debut of Joseph Losey.

Read more »
November 30, 1947
Ernst Lubitsch dies

On Sunday November 30, 1947, director Ernst Lubitsch was due at William Wyler’s home for an afternoon screening party.

Read more »
November 30, 1945
Noir Takes a Detour

In a time in which CGI and other advanced film technologies create worlds that are more lifelike than life itself, the grungy, low-rent charms of Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour, which opened on November 20, 1945, should not be forgotten. Shot in less than one week on a few simple sets and using obvious rear-screen projection for all the driving scenes, the movie is, as Robert Ebert wrote, “so filled with imperfections that it would not earn the director a passing grade in film school.” But despite its many technical flaws, the film is a film noir classic. Its indigent aesthetic amplifies rather than detracts from its bleak tale of blackmail and remorselessness. And, as the femme fatale, Ann Savage created perhaps the perfect noir heroine. “There is not a single fleeting shred of tenderness or humanity in her performance,” Ebert wrote.

Read more »