Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
Original title: Soldaat van Oranje
Netherlands/Belgium, 1977. Excelsior Films, Film Holland, The Rank Organisation, Rob Houwer Productions. Screenplay by Kees Holierhoek, Gerard Soeteman, Paul Verhoeven, based on the novel Soldaat van Oranje ’40-’45 by Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema. Cinematography by Jost Vacano. Produced by Rob Houwer. Music by Rogier van Otterloo. Production Design by Roland de Groot. Costume Design by Elly Claus. Film Editing by Jane Seitz. Golden Globe Awards 1979. New York Film Critics Awards 1979.
Marvelous war epic that could easily be considered the jewel in Paul Verhoeven’s career. Rutger Hauer and Jeroen Krabbé are superb as young men who battle it out in university and go on to become compatriots in the Dutch resistance during World War II. Verhoeven gives plenty of respect to the genre of war epics, with riveting characters having their destinies, over three wonderful hours, play out against a rich historic backdrop as they look to survive Nazi invasion and a few Allied bombings. At the same time the delicious tropes of his charismatic career are in full force, including the men’s unapologetic indulgences in romancing some ladies, and visually kinky situations that describe the absurdity of war (such as two men dancing the tango right before bringing out about the big, violent climax). Unlike similar films that espouse mere ideology and patriotism, this is a film about men getting the most out of the moment because life is fleeting, and the sense of immediacy that hangs over the whole thing, along with rich characterizations and period detail, provide a fully satisfying experience.