Friday, March 25, 2011
Winter in Wartime (Oorlogswinter)
Almost every adolescent boy has gone extra mile to prove himself that he is a grown-up man. Although, in snow-covered and Nazi-occupied Netherlands during World War II, what he does might be nothing short of being extraordinary. Based on Dutch scientist, politician, and author Jan Terlouw's semi-biographical novel, a gorgeous looking film "Winter in Wartime" (Oorlogswinter | Netherlands 2008 | in Dutch | 103 min.) tells an unforgettable story about how a thirteen-year-old boy saves a wounded British pilot's life. That brave act certainly qualifies him as a grown-up and reaches beyond a typical adolescent's potential.
Set in 1945, inquisitive Michiel (Martijn Lakemeier) plays with his friends like every teenager boy in a Nazi-occupied small Dutch village, whose mayor is Michiel's father Johan (Raymond Thiry). Johan tries his best to dance between satisfying the German and saving the lives of people in his village. That displeases Michiel. Meanwhile, Michiel looks up to his uncle Ben (Yorick van Wageningen) who appears to be involved in the resistance. When he finds a wounded British pilot Jack (Jamie Campbell Bower) in the woods, he immediately takes the risk and responsibility to save Jack. The ordeal becomes Michiel's coming-of-age manifesto.
"Winter in Wartime" is Dutch's submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2009. It is undeniable that this is a skillfully crafted film with plenty gripping and suspenseful moments. The story unfolds almost entirely through Michiel's eyes. That gives you the first-person feel as if you are in the middle of every twists and turns, however they are predictable in the film.
Despite its admirable achievements, the film is rather sloppy on attending the details in logic. You get the impression that either the Nazis are extremely dumb, or Michiel and his pals are exceedingly lucky, repeatedly.
The good news is that Michiel has proved himself unquestionably—he has grown up and he has become a hero.