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‘The Forgotten Battle’ is essentially Christopher Nolan’s 2017 war picture ‘Dunkirk,’ but in Dutch. This documentary, made by Dutch director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., is based on the notorious Battle of Scheldt, which took place in 1944 and is best known for the sci-fi picture ‘The Thing,’ which was released in 2011. ‘The Forgotten Battle’ is available in Dutch, English, and German, with subtitles for people who aren’t acquainted with the languages.
This film was very expensive to make, costing a staggering $16 million. This made the film the second most costly in the Netherlands, after another war film by Dutch veteran Paul Verhoeven, ‘Zwartboek,’ better known in English as ‘Black Book,’ which had a budget of $21 million. One would think that hiring a filmmaker with greater expertise in war films, such as Verhoeven, would have been preferable; nevertheless, despite having been out of the game for almost 10 years, Matthijs did right to this feature, producing a fantastic film.
Many famous filmmakers have made films on World War II throughout the years, such as Steven Spielberg’s ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and Michael Bay’s ‘Pearl Habor.’ However, one significant incident from the historic war has been overlooked throughout the years, owing to the fact that few people outside of Holland and Canada are aware of the terrible battle between the Allies and the Germans that took place in the Scheldt River’s estuary and lasted months. The consequence was a large number of fatalities on the Allies’ side, with over 12,000 persons killed, injured, or missing, including over 6,000 Canadians. Nonetheless, it was a pivotal moment in Europe’s freedom, deserving of all praise.
Beautiful scenery can be seen throughout ‘The Forgotten Battle,’ which was filmed in Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Belgium. However, certain sequences are made possible by the very competent director’s use of superb CGI. The film was supposed to be released in November 2020, but it was postponed due to the coronavirus epidemic, which prevented people from returning to the theaters.
The film was finally released the next month, with just a few screenings in Dutch theaters. Because Netflix was a part of the film’s financing, it will be accessible to watch on their platform beginning October 15, 2021, making it the first Dutch film to do so. ‘The Forgotten Battle’ was made with the help of local broadcasters and other investors in the nation.
The story of this iconic battle is told through three main characters: Teuntje, a reluctant, resistant girl from Zeeland played by Susan Radar, whose brother has crucial intelligence that could aid the Allied armies in defeating the Nazis, and her brother, who has crucial intelligence that could aid the Allied armies in defeating the Nazis. However, since they don’t know who to trust, it’s becoming more difficult to pass on information to the resistance. Marinus is a Dutchman who is injured while fighting in the German army. He is assigned to an administrative position in Zeeland.
This character is played by rising Dutch actor Gijs Blom, and then there’s William, an Allied soldier played by Jamie Flatters who is trying to topple the well-established Germans. Tom Felton, best known for his role in the espionage series ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service,’ and Theo Barklem Biggs, best known for his role in the first chapter of the spy franchise ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service,’ are among the international cast members.
If one is paying attention, they will note that the action slows down often, and the narrative gets difficult to follow at times, making it seem as if one is seeing three separate tales mixed together. There isn’t much conversation in the picture, and the narrative is conveyed via action and history; in fact, more action sequences would have been nice.
The authors, headed by Paula van der Oest and five others, chose the mosaic storytelling method, which aims to convey the narrative in a chronological fashion while limiting the amount of time the actors have to properly develop their characters. However, although this does not detract from the overall pleasure of the film, one can’t help but wonder how the film would have turned out if the three tales had been presented separately and then rejoined in a big climax, similar to a TV series.
Because it was also intended to teach young people about a pivotal period in history, the final tale was double-checked and modified by ancient military officers to guarantee that every detail of the story was accurate.
The use of three distinct people to tell the narrative provides a unique perspective from the typical us vs. them situation seen in this genre’s films throughout the years. It tells the same tale from three distinct viewpoints, which is very intriguing. ‘The Forgotten Battle’ never celebrates war brutality or presents fake heroics. Nonetheless, it examines the atrocities that the war imposed on individuals in detail from three distinct perspectives, in the most realistic and genuine way possible. It emphasizes the terror, grief, and loss brought on by the historic fight. It vividly depicts the gunfights and everyday lives of those who lived under the Nazis’ oppressive rule.
The film’s main characters neatly weave their way through the narrative, neatly weaving through the various aspects of the story as their paths eventually cross near the end of the feature, forcing them to choose between continuing to fight each other or forming a united front in pursuit of a common goal, which is freedom.
The cast gives a strong performance. The cinematography is really stunning. The music is wonderfully integrated into the narrative, portraying different emotions and circumstances, and the landscapes that serve as the film’s background are breathtaking.
Overall, ‘The Forgotten Battle’ is a fantastic film that expertly blends all of the essential components of a great film. It’s a film that could easily pass for a Hollywood production, from the superb delivery to the visual elements and action scenes. If you like war movies or just want to brush up on your history, you will enjoy this feature, which is both amusing and educational.
SCORE: 7 OUT OF 10
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