The Discovery Of Heaven is a Dutch
movie made from the book De Ontdekking van de Hemel
by Harry Mulisch
(one of the best and most famous writers of the Netherlands). It was released in 2001.
The book by Harry Mulisch this film is based on, is a 900 page epic spanning three generations. The main idea in the story is that God is disappointed with humankind and wants the stone tablets back. The angel in charge of this task needs two world wars to finally get the people with the right genes together to produce the person that will bring the stone tablets back to heaven. The book, and the film, concentrates on that 'messenger', Quinten, his parents, Otto, Max and Ada, and his grandmother.
The film starts with Otto (Stephen Fry) meeting Max (Greg Wise). They become friends. Then Max meets Ada (Flora Montgomery) and they fall in love. Otto also becomes friends with Ada.
Because of a stupid remark by Max, the relationship ends. While Max goes on a journey to Auschwitz, where his mother died, Otto and Ada fall in love and decide te get married. During a vacation in Cuba, Ada has sex with both Max and Otto - and turns out to be pregnant, but by whom?
Then the three of them get in a car accident and Ada ends up in a coma, pregnant and all. When the baby Quinten (Dimitri Philippou / Neil Newbon) is born, Max offers to care for it, with the help of Ada's mother, as Otto is too busy with his career in politics. They live in a castle filled with artists and eccentric people and there Quinten starts getting interested in architecture and locks...
The story is much longer and more complicated than this, but it would spoil much of the fun if I were to tell it all. The film manages to capture a lot of the complete story, which is rather an accompishment for such a long book. The effect of this however, is that all those small details that make the story make sense, are more or less glossed over. In the book, it is always perfectly clear why these people do what they do and how Quinten finally understands where the Stone Tablets are and how he can get them from there. Nothing happens without a reason - those angels up in heaven make sure of that. In the film things just turn out right, without the extensive explanations of the book. Of course, this is to be expected when you cram 900 pages into 150 minutes.
The film was directed by Jeroen Krabbé, a famous Dutch actor and director, who has also inserted a role for himself into the film. Due to the fact that most of the actors are English-speaking, this film doesn't have the strange forced-sounding conversations that many Dutch movies have. All in all a good film.