Friday, April 29, 2011

"Winter in Wartime": storytelling during Nazi occupation leads to a Hitchcock-like Dutch film

Winter in Wartime” (“Oorlogswinter”) is another great piece of storytelling in an alien environment to most of us, this one in the rural Netherlands near the end of WWII, in an area still occupied by Nazis, who will soon be evicted by the Allies (this was after the Battle of the Bulge).  And it is about coming of age. Martijn Lakemeier puts on a virtuoso performance as Michiel, the 14 year old son of a town mayor, who discovers a British soldier in hiding and helps him. For all the moral and ideological ambiguities, director Martin Koolhaven, the screenwriters, and novelist Jan Terlouw stick to dense plotting, with twists that would have attracted Alfred Hitchcock to direct.  The landscapes are photographed in sepia, almost in black and white in most forest or canal scenes.  Bridges and ferries fit into the plot (and the cinematography), as do horses.

The film opens with a (British) war plane crash, and a shooting from a pilot caught in the trees; and it will be a while before we see the connection to the plot. But the occupiers (however numbered are their days by early 1945) are determined to punish the town for the death of one of their own, and it seems that the political and ideological alliances in the mayor’s family and The Resistance  are not as simple as they might be. Against this background, Michiel, even if he first thinks he is finding adventure, really just wants to do the right things, for both the hidden British soldier (Jamie Campbell Bower) and for his family. His father rejoices in his advancing manhood, giving him his first shave in one tender scene.

Here is Sony’s site


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