Customer Review

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wartime tale of Lost Innocence., 20 July 2010
This review is from: Winter In Wartime [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
There has been a glut of recent films about the resistance movement in Europe during the Nazi occupation. There was the excellent "Max Manus" from Norway, "Army of Crime" from France, and the bigger budget Daniel Craig vehicle "Defiance" about the Bielski brothers. Perhaps the bench mark for such movies is Jean-Pierre Melville's "Army of Shadows", made way back in antiquity. Nineteen sixty nine to be more precise! Now the Dutch have thrown in their own resistance film, and it is not bad!

The story concerns a fresh faced 14 year old boy Michiel, who harbours aspirations to join the local resistance movement. The life expectancy in this movement is about the same as a first world war pilot, judging from the rate they are bumped off early on! Not something that seems to put our young would be hero off! Michiel resents his father the town mayor who appears to pander to the local Nazi's for the sake of an easier life, but he worships his Uncle Ben who has contact with the resistance. When he discovers a downed English pilot, Michiel enters into a very dangerous game. The penalty for such help being a lonely wall and the firing squad. All is not as it seems for a young boy forced to grow up fast under the harsh realities of war.

The film is something of a Dutch boys own adventure, with the theme of lost innocence at its heart. There were many children in Europe during WW2 who were sadly robbed of their innocence, so this is certainly a sincere theme. The film also realistically portrays that feeling of dread that those working in the resistance had to live with. That awful knock on the door in the middle of the night that could lead to torture and exection. We are also made painfully aware of the wartime shortages and the temptation for some to turn informer. Director Martin Koolhaven coaxes excellent performances from the cast, especially young Martijn Lakemeier. The winter landscape photography is also a highlight. The film does perhaps seem a little predictable at times, and a little sterile, which almost echoes the landscape. It was a huge success in the Netherlands over Christmas 2008 and early 2009, and was also short listed at the Academy Awards for best foreign language film. As a deceptively uncomplicated coming of age film, it works very well. There is an excellent scene where Michiel is caught having his first shave by his father, and there is also the last rather sentimental scene which captures the essence at the movies heart. The film received lukewarm reviews when released in this country, which I felt was a little unfair. It deserved better, and certainly holds enough interest to make it well worth watching.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Jul 2010 19:09:35 BDT
Basileus says:
Nice review, but one comment. THE Dutch war / resistance movie is Soldaat van Oranje / Soldier of Orange with Rutger Hauer.
A classic and world famous in NL.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jul 2010 15:20:14 BDT
Bob Salter says:
Thank you. I will have to put this one on my "To watch list".

Regards Bob.
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