Winter in Wartime is a modern masterpiece about a boy who comes of age under Nazi occupation. Martin Koolhoven directs.
Individuals survive war
Winter in Wartime follows the tradition of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Pianist and other dramas about individual survival during World War II.
A flaming plane plummets into a field in the Netherlands one evening. Through a frosty window, Michiel (Martijn Lakemeier) peers at the wreckage, frightened and fascinated.
Curious boy seeks to help
“You don’t know what you’re doing, do you?” asks Uncle Ben (Yorick van Wageningen), a Resistance fighter who is visiting Michiel’s home. Ben orders Michiel to stay out of harm’s way and not get involved in the war.
This only encourages the boy, especially since his father the mayor (Raymond Thiry) stays neutral and meets regularly with Nazi soldiers.
Michiel is drawn in when Dutch Resistance member Dirk (Mees Piejnenburg) drops off a letter that must be delivered in case he is captured.
Wounded warrior becomes a friend
One contact after another is murdered, prompting Michiel to open the letter himself. Cryptic directions lead to an underground bunker holding injured English pilot Jack (Jamie Campbell Bower).
Jack becomes both friend and role model. Michiel must trust his sister Erica (Melody Klaver), a nurse, to help.
Humanizing the occupiers
Winter in Wartime dares humanize the occupying Nazis, who scoff at the clumsy youngster. Michiel’s gift for getting into trouble and irritating them helps him evade suspicion.
Koolhoven shows self-discovery spurred by tragedy, betrayal and activism. Iconic closeups and sweeping action scenes by cinematographer Guido van Gennep build awe.
Winter in Wartime is based on the novel Oorlogswinter. (5 out of 5 stars)
If you like Winter in Wartime, you might enjoy: White Material.
Winter in Wartime 2008 / R / 1 hour, 43 mins
Cast Overview: Martijn Lakemeier, Yorick van Wageningen, Jamie Campbell Bower, Raymond Thiry, Melody Klaver, Anneke Blok, Jessie van Driel, Mees Peijnenburg, Dan Husen
Director: Martin Koolhoven
Genre: Drama, Foreign, War & Military, Drama Based on the Book
Languages: Dutch and German with English subtitles