The Forgotten Battle

THE FORGOTTEN BATTLEa surprisingly good WW2 story from the Netherlands in 2020, written by Paula van der Oest (Zus & Zo), exceptionally well directed by Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr., his long-delayed return at the helm after doing a swell job on the underrated 2006 version of The Thing. This one is solid in all respects.

Holland in the Autumn of 1944. Three stories intersect during one of the fights to liberate the country from the Nazis. ‘Teuntje Visser’ (Susan Radder), a young woman whose physician father subserviently works with the occupying enemy, joins resistance efforts when her teenaged brother is captured and tortured. One of her countrymen, ‘Marinus van Staveren’ (Gijs Blom), serving as a soldier in the German Army, has been sent back from the Russian Front for duty in Holland. Canadian glider pilot ‘William Sinclair’ (Jamie Flatters), part of the Allies ‘Operation Market Garden’, lands his damaged craft off course, and joins one of his country’s infantry units. The trio of plotlines converge in the small but fierce Battle of Walcheren Causeway. The action occurred on the Scheldt River in the Dutch province of Zeeland, key to the Allied capture of the port of Antwerp. As such, the movie connects to films like A Bridge Too Far, Soldier Of Orange, Black Book and The Diary Of Anne Frank.

With location filming done in Lithuania, the Netherlands and Belgium, the €14 million budgeted (around $16,000,000) was the 2nd highest amount laid on for a Dutch film since the harsh  Black Book back in 2006. The funds were most adroitly deployed, with superior production detailing and smart direction giving the sense of a canvas on a considerably larger scale. Furious and exciting action plays no favorites and do not gum up the story with nonsense. No phony sentiment, clichéd romance or false heroics, no demonization or glorification, just raw, frail and honest human behaviors and emotions caught up in fate, folly and fire.  Restrained and effective use of CGI when required, excellent sound layering in the battle sequences. Strong work from the cast.

Theatrical gross came to a little over $6,000,000 due partially to a limited release in ’21 thanks to COVID: hopefully additional revenue would be generated from Netflix showings.

With Jan Bijvoet, Tom Felton, Ronald Kalter, Coen Bril, Marthe Schneider, Justus von Dohnányi, Mark van Eeuwen. 124 minutes.

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