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Soldaat van Oranje 1977
Description: This movie depicts Globe Fight II through the eyes of few Dutch students. It follows them through the beginning of the war, the Nazi occupation and the liberation.
Released: 16 Aug 1979 Director: Paul Verhoeven Writers: Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema (book), Kees Holierhoek, Gerard Soeteman, Paul Verhoeven Actors: Rutger Hauer, Jeroen Krabbé, Susan Penhaligon, Edward Fox Genres: Drama, Romance, Thriller, War
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Soldaat van Oranje Reviews:

Paul Verhoeven's Soldaat van Oranje (aka: Soldier Of Orange), the religious excesses of his Flesh + Blood (1985) not withstanding, is probably the closest the director has come to an epic. At the equivalent of $2.5 million, it was the most expensive Dutch detail movie made at that time. It was also the movie which brought him to the attention of Hollywood, exemplified by Spielberg's smartphone call to him after seeing the film: "What are you doing in Holland? Come to the USA, things are better there!" During his childhood in The Hague, Verhoeven had been witness to the activities of the occupying Nazis, which made a nice impression on him. He remembers vividly his father hiding in a cellar and seeing dead bodies in the street, for example. As one biographer has noted, Soldier Of Orange "was a theme he should taste, feel, and breathe," a movie shot with of honesty and verisimilitude, if less of the director's characteristic excess, though still with his distinctive vision and style. There are some familiar faces in the huge cast: Jeroen Krabbé (as Guus Le Jeune) who took the lead in De Vierde Boy (aka: The Fourth Man) is a key protagonist, and the svelte and good-looking Rutger Hauer, as the central hero Erik Lanshof. The blond Hauer, who had until actually been utilised by Verhoeven as a working class character in such movies as Turks Fruit (aka: Turkish Delight, 1973), and afterwards in Spetters (1980) is here transformed into a prosperous fight hero, modelled on Erik Roelfzema, the creator of the original dramatic memoir. Much of the fraught virility usually associated with Hauer is suppressed here, although it briefly reappears during his dalliance with Susan (Susan Penhaligon). That Erik/Hauer is the focus of the movie is recommended by his first appearance, although the episodic nature of much that follows in the narrative sometimes sidelines his significance. He is inserted, Zelig-like, into opening newsreel footage, the 'single aide' at the post fight return of Queen Wilhemina. Like so many of his Dutch contemporaries, Erik is comfortably well off, a boy to whom (if only at first) the conflict seems just other grand adventure. Previously the middle class had been presented in Verhoeven's work as exploiters (as in Keetje Keeple, 1975) or as sexually ludicrous in Wat Zen Ik? (aka: Business Is Business, 1971). Such boisterous social irony is, in the show film, conspicuous by its absence, as if the contemplation of fight forced a various responsibility upon the filmmakers. Erik and his class of 1939-40 may sometimes be made effete, but never risible. Made at a time when Netherlanders were starting to face the realities of their wartime existence, unpleasant facts about home collaboration and acquiescence to occupation, Verhoeven's movie confronts these problems with a tale of student mates torn apart by war, having to face moral dilemmas and choices. Soldier Of Orange, finished with its stirring game music, is a game with a singular subject, implying a monolithic view of an individual at war. But the movie now focuses on a plurality of men, an ensemble of half a dozen privileged students, every of them responding to the conflict in a various way. Although Erik is the nominal hero, his actions are often ineffectual and have dubious results. His counterweight is Alex (Derek de Lint). Having served in the Dutch army, he sees his mother interned and decides to join the Waffen SS. The two meet only twice after: at a parade, where the Dutch civilians give flowers to the Germans, and at a dance where the two tango face to face, with obvious connotations of identity and mutual resemblance. Of the another friends, Robby (Eddie Habbema) betrays his colleagues to save his girlfriend, while other stays out of it entirely - one of only two surviving out of the initial group picture. Soldier Of Orange begins, aptly enough, with an initiation ceremony. Cowed, humiliated, then celebratory, Erik and the others have to undergo rituals to be agreed into the student body. Of course the mocking cruelties they undergo echo the Nazi repression of soon on: the fear, the anal torture and the firing squads. More instantly the process confirms for us the circle of friends, frozen in a group photograph, set to be inspected further as what starts as a student's club ends as a man's struggle. This opening initiation is the coming conflict in microcosm. Later it will be the flames of war, rather than the soup comically poured over Erik's head, that offer a definitive rite of passage. Verhoeven manages some exciting set pieces during the course of the film: the bombing attack on the barracks, the beach shootings scene, the initiation and the aborted seaplane rescue being standouts. There are also some quieter, poetic moments, such as the overhead and point-of-view shots of Jean's white shirted execution in the dunes. (A striking stage which makes one regret Verhoeven's newest descent into the unique results laden un-subtlety of the Hollow Man.) The episodic nature of the narrative is both a blessing and a curse: while the number of characters and subplots makes it possible to examine a society from a range of viewpoints, the lack of a single, powerful momentum leads to occasional slacking of tension.The abiding impression gained at the end of this long (167 minutes) movie is that nothing in this fight has been black and white, and Verhoeven has faithfully recommended the historical revisionism of the time. Out of these moral uncertainties, he has crafted an exciting and engrossing work, one that he actually considers his greatest Dutch project. Although the ambiguities helped create Soldier of Orange's initial critical reception lukewarm, it was exceptionally well received by the Dutch public. Interestingly, for overseas release the movie was renamed Survival Run - a change that suggests a work much less of a complex national portrait than it now is.


This movie hit a grand slam by successfully achieving all of the things I hope for in a movie: it entertained me, it educated me, it charmed me, and it provoked me. I have lived in the Netherlands and love the Dutch people, so I was satisfied to view this movie and see many familiar websites and understand some of the Dutch dialogue. It provided me with a sense of deja vu. I also learned things about the Dutch Globe Fight II experience that I previously was unaware of. The vast majority of the globe only has one thought when it comes to WWII and the Dutch: Anne Frank. It's heartening to watch a movie that explores many another facets of the Dutch experience during occupation, and that doesn't promote an all-rosy view wherein everyone is heroic. It is a realistic movie that showed the complications of fight and occupation, the desire for self-survival, the limits of patriotism, the fragility of war-time romances, and the bravery and sacrifices that some, but not all, are willing to exhibit. My heart was in my throat many times as I wondered what would happen and, although the film is almost two and a half hours, I was sorry to see it end.


Paul Verhoeven movies are notorious for everything except what they could be known for: portraying reality in a frank, no-lies manner that several another filmmakers even dare to attempt. It's great to know that, in this era of Hollywood churning out movies that look more like video minigames or melody videos, Verhoeven continues to create movies that push envelopes and give the audience something to think about.Soldaat van Oranje, like its American counterpart twenty years later, is a movie about fight that takes its topics by the horns and doesn't allow go at any moment. As we are introduced to the group of Dutch students whose eyes we see Globe Fight II through, we see a reflection of one rarely acknowledged truth: that numerous ordinary, daily people, ignorant of what was really going on in Nazi Germany, couldn't have cared less about what was going on. It was only when the reality of the fight was brought to them, as the Germans invaded Holland, that these students sat up and took notice of what the fight was doing to ordinary people. Indeed, early on in the film, Hauer's hero even tells that a spot of fight would be "exciting".Another reality that this movie prefers to hit the viewer square in the face with is that while the fight changed a lot of aspects of daily life for everyone, there were some things that stayed the same regardless. In the stage where Hauer's hero is attempting to board a boat bound for England, the German army's refusal to allow the sailors on board prompts a fast "back to the pub" response from the working-class sailors. Business as usual in that respect.Considering that this is a Paul Verhoeven film, it is now quite surprising how tiny violence there is to be found here. Granted, it is not a family film, and some of the torture scenes will create your blood boil as well as create some sick folks like myself chuckle, but unlike the movie that Verhoeven made with numerous references to this one twenty years later, there is surprisingly tiny blood and gore. Indeed, unlike the sarcastic satire of Starship Troopers, Soldaat Van Oranje says its storyline in a restrained, almost documentary-like manner that is surprising as well as creative.All in all, I'd give Soldaat Van Oranje a qualified ten out of ten. It is not going to appeal to everyone, and some just won't receive it at all, but it delivers a strong storyline about the loss of innocence and freedom that could be needed viewing in all schools, not just Dutch ones. Oh, and I cannot remember who told it, but they are right about one thing: the footage of the Queen returning to Dutch soil made me wish to scream "Oranje boven!", and I am not even Dutch.



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