Monday, July 29, 2013

The Dutch and the Deutsch

Of the few foreign films I have, it seems a plurality are Dutch films about World War II.  In fact, I have three of them.

The first is actually an English film from 1941 called One Of Our Aircraft Is Missing.  It's about an RAF crew that is smuggled out of the Netherlands thanks to the efforts of the Dutch Underground.  A note at the beginning of the movie tells us:
Produced with the full co-operation of the Royal Air Force and the Air Ministry and, above all, of the Royal Netherlands Government, London.
The next two are in Dutch with English subtitles.  The first is the Paul Verhoeven film Black Book.  The dvd case reads:
In the darkest days of World War II, Jewish fugitives attempt to escape occupied Holland--only to face a Nazi ambush.  Rachel Stein alone survives the attack and joins the Dutch Resistance to avenge her family.  She soon confronts the ultimate test: she must infiltrate German headquarters by tempting Captain Ludwig Muentze.  In the heat of passion, he uncovers her duplicity...but keeps her secret.  Then Rachel's espionage reveals that a murderous traitor lurks within Resistance rangks.  Unable to fully trust anyone, Rachel navigates a minefield of deception and becomes an enemy to both sides.  Epic, passionate, and breathtaking, Black Book relates an untold story of World War II where the distinctions between good and evil become blurred by the complexities of human nature.
The opening of the film tells us the story is "inspired by true events".

The third movie I bought just yesterday on blu-ray, the 2008 movie Winter In Wartime.  The case tells us it's the winner of the 2009 Golden Calf at the Netherlands Film Festival, as well as the plot:
Nazi-occupied Holland, 1945.  In a snow-covered village, thirteen-year-old Michiel is drawn into the Resistance when he aids a wounded British paratrooper.  Michiel's boyish sense of defiance and adventure soon turns to danger and desperation, as Michiel is forced to act without knowing whom to trust among the adults and townspeople around him.  Wartime's harsh reality encroaches on childhood innocence as Michiel confronts good and evil, courage and duplicity, and his own burden of responsibility. 
All three of these films tell eternal stories of heroism in the face of the darkest evil.  The latter two show humanity in individual Germans, the duality creating conflict for the viewer.

These are great stories.

Update:  You know what I find interesting about listening to spoken Dutch?  It sounds to me like pidgin German.


momof4 said...

One of my sons took German and was fluent enough that when he traveled around Germany, people assumed he was German, but from a different region - and he could understand some Dutch. He used to watch Dutch soccer matches and could follow the commentary - helped by the fact that he spoke fluent soccer.

pseudotsuga said...

"Pidgin" German? Not pidgin at all--it's just "Plattdeutsch" rather than "Hochdeutsch." I had a college roommate who spoke Dutch. With my Hochdeutsch (and the influence of Old and Middle English) I could understand his Dutch decently, but Hochdeutsch wasn't really intelligible back the other way. It was interesting.

PeggyU said...

My father-in-law is Swiss, and he speaks German, but Swiss German is, as he would say, very "lazy" - not "High German" which he was required to use while in school.

PeggyU said...

Speaking of foreign films, have you ever seen Pan's Labyrinth? It's kind of gory, but still a very good movie. Plus, it features a giant toad.