Set in a 1945, Nazi-occupied Holland, a thirteen-year-old boy witnesses through his frost-covered window the crash of an allied war plane. Preoccupied by what may or may not have happened, the boy, Michiel (Martijn Lakemeier) and his best friend Theo (Jesse Van Driel) evade German patrols the next day in order to examine the wreckage. When they are spotted, Michiel grabs a wristwatch and Theo a piece of tubing as souvenirs. Without a true understanding of the harsh realities of wartime, Michiel, his family and those he cares about are suddenly thrust into a tumultuous conflict between right and wrong, courage and duplicity.
When Uncle Ben (Yorick Van Wageningen) comes to stay with Michiel’s family, Michiel is thrilled to see his father’s brother. Johan van Beusekom (Raymond Thiry) is the mayor of the small village and Ben is angered that his brother has chosen to remain neutral towards the Germans and allow them to dictate how much food and supplies are allowed the townspeople he protects while he (Ben) fights with the resistance to free Holland. Michiel tries to understand the sides two men he loves dearly are taking, and which side is correct to support.
Michiel is thrust into a dangerous situation when Theo’s brother, Dirk (Mees Peijnenburg), hands him a letter and asks him to deliver it to the blacksmith in the village. He never gets the opportunity when the Germans shoot the man in the street. Michiel decides to open the letter himself and find out what all the fuss is about. On the letter are directions to a place in a nearby wood. With the defiance of a young youth and a sense of adventure, Michiel embarks on a dangerous mission when he discovers that the instructions in the letter reveal the hidden location of a wounded British soldier, Jack, who’d been in the crash of the plane and was forced to kill a German soldier in order to remain alive behind enemy lines. Aiding the British soldier could mean life and death, not only to the soldier, but to Michiel and everyone around him.
Examiner Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Sony Pictures Classics (C) outdoes itself in this foreign film that has a big heart and intriguing twists to the plot that keep you glued to the screen. Although the movie was shown in theaters in March 18, 2011, it’s viewing was very limited, making this a great DVD to rent. The plight of Michiel and the trial of courage is one that many adults would recognize as the type of difficult decisions one must make in a time of great need, even when it takes extreme courage to do what is right in one’s own heart.
For Iowans, especially the town of Pella, where the majority of the population are immigrants from Holland and the Netherlands, this would be a very poignant movie.
Rated “R” by the Motion Picture Association of American for some violence and language.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release date: July 26, 2011
Run time: 1 hr. 43 min.
Foreign title: Oorlogswinter
Languages: Nederlander, French
Subtitles: English, German
Genre: Drama, Adventure, Art House & International
Directed By: Martin Koolhoven
- Mieke deJong
- Paul Jan Nelissen
- Martin Koolhoven
Martijn Lakemeier – Michiel van Beusekom (last seen in Lover or Loser – 2009)
Yorick van Wageningen – Uncle Ben (in Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)
Jamie Campbell Bower – Jack (played Caius in The Twilight Saga: New Moon )
Raymond Thiry – Johan van Beusekom
Melody Klaver – Ericka van Beusekom
Anneke Blok – Lia van Beusekom
Jesse Van Driel – Theo
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE
This DVD is appropriately rated for audiences over the age of 17; scenes involving gun violence, war, some harsh language.
Places you can rent this DVD: Family Video, Redbox
This movie is difficult to find in retail stores in the Des Moines, Iowa, market, but can be ordered online at Walmart in a Blu-Ray and DVD combo-pack.
Also available on demand on Vudu
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