24 February 2012

Movies: Winter in Wartime

Winter in Wartime (2008) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0795441/

World War II Period Drama, subtitled foreign language film (Dutch, German, English)

Set in Nazi-occupied Holland, 1945, and yes it is winter time. 14-year old Michiel is the son of the mayor and resents his father's acquiescent dealings with the Nazi occupiers. Michiel instead admires his Uncle Ben, who Michiel suspects is in the Dutch Resistance. Although Uncle Ben warns Michiel to just be a boy and not to get involved in the resistance, circumstances lead Michiel to Jack, an injured downed RAF pilot who is hiding in the woods a short ways outside of town. Michiel befriends him, brings him food, medical aid, and tries to smuggle him out of the area so that Jack can return to England.

I didn't recognize most of the cast, but young Jamie Campbell Bower plays RAF pilot Jack. I recognize Bower from the Starz Camelot series, the final two Harry Potter films, and Sweeny Todd. Apparently he was in a Twilight film or three as well, but I never watched any of 'em and don't intend to.  Bower did quite well in this film, as did the rest of the cast. They all seemed believable in their roles.

The production was excellent. Camera work, editing, settings, pacing, all excellent.
Good story too.  We follow Michiel throughout the film. We get to see his opinions and interpretations of the people around him and his realization while events unfold that they may not have been accurate or severely misplaced. He struggles with the conflict of hating the Nazis, yet sometimes they do helpful things that make them seem not so bad.  Basically we watch as doses of wartime reality crumble his naivete. Although the story is rather straightforward there are plenty of nuances involved in the storytelling to keep this film a compelling experience.

In some ways this film reminded me of the film "Empire of the Sun". They aren't similar stories, but they are similar in portraying a coming of age experience during wartime for their corresponding young protagonists.  "Empire" also happens to be the first Christian Bale film I saw, although he was but 12 or 13 years old at the time. So yeah, I was kinda shocked when I next saw him as Patrick Bateman in "American Psycho" and realized it was that same kid.

If you like period dramas or World War II period dramas, check this one out. And if you haven't yet seen "Empire of the Sun", give that one a shot too. Both are good films and worth seeing at least once.

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