A review of a war film with a difference: “The Forgotten Battle”

There have, of course, been numerous films about the Second World War, but this 2020 offering is a bit different: the conflict in question was in The Netherlands, it is a Dutch production, and it is the first Dutch film from Netflix. 

Inspired by true events, this is a portrayal of the Battle of Scheldt in Autumn 1944 told mainly through the perspective of three fictional characters: Marinus van Staveren who is a Dutch volunteer in the Waffen-SS Division Das Reich (Gijs Blom), Teuntje Visser who is a Dutch clerk in the office of the collaborationist mayor (Susan Radder), and the British Sergeant Will Sinclair who is a glider pilot shot down over German-occupied Zeeland (Jamie Flatters).

It is an even-handed presentation that shows both the collaboration and the resistance of the Dutch, the bravery as well as the brutality of the Germans, and some deserters from the otherwise heroic Allies. 

A large part of the movie was shot in Lithuania with the rest in The Netherlands and Belgium and, in spite of a small budget by Hollywood standards, it looks terrific with the watery world of the Zeeland and the Battle of Walcheren Causeway represented in gritty, realistic terms.

It is only the third work directed by Dutch filmmaker Matthijs van Heijningen Jr; unusually for a war film, the writer is a woman Paula van der Oest; and you will not recognise any of the actors. So this is a film that makes excellent use of limited resources to tell a story that most certainly should not be forgotten.


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