Jun 13, 2008

Soldier of Orange

Soldier of Orange is one of the many Dutch masterpieces from Paul Verhoeven. Before Verhoeven started making Sci-Fi satires in Hollywood, he was Holland’s most highly revered film director. But alas, like most international film talent, Verhoeven was taken away from his homeland to make big bucks for the men that live off of Mulholland Drive. Unsurprisingly, Soldier of Orange seems to be Verhoeven’s most “Hollywood” Dutch film. I am sure that Mr. Verhoeven saw a few American war films before directing the film.

Soldier of Orange is sort of a personal film for me. The film is set during the German occupation of Holland during World War II. I had relatives from The Netherlands living during that time period and can still feel the affects of that destructive (and pointless) war today. Soldier of Orange centers around a group of friends and the different paths they take during the war. Holland’s greatest actor Rutger Hauer stars as the lead character Erik Lanshof, who joins up with the Dutch resistance and British to fight the Germans. Through his epic Journey, Erik realizes he can’t even trust the best of friends.

Paul Verhoeven took a more realistic approach than most on the subject of the second World War. You see as the Germans first invade Holland and their occupation is fairly peaceful. As the war progressions, the resistance gets more defiant and the tensions build up. Soldier of Orange also brings up how some Dutchmen joined the Waffen SS and fought for Germany on the eastern front. I find it odd that Paul Verhoeven forgot to mention the Dutch famine of 1944 where at least 18,000 people starved to death. Despite the lack of mention of this tragic event, I still respect Verhoeven’s commitment to historical reality.

Soldier of Orange features a variety of unfaithful sex scenarios. The friends in the film just can’t seem to get enough of one another’s sex partners. The men go from woman to woman like they are playing tag. These sex scenes are the only indicator that Paul Verhoeven would go on later to direct the ridiculous sleazy stripper drama fest Showgirls. Verhoeven has always been a master at filming scenes in the bedroom.

Soldier of Orange also seemed to have a variety of subtle homoerotic scenes between the group of friends. The most obvious is a ballroom dance between Erik Lanshof and his friend Derek de Lint who is now a member of the SS. The two friends dance with each other, now on opposing sides in the war. This poignant scene is slightly erupted by some SS whores that desire Derek’s Iron Cross metal he got for blowing up a Russian tank. Derek’s demise is both pointless and tragic. A scene that director Paul Verhoeven later regretted shooting.

There are too many worthless films that take place during World War II. Most of them are just rehashing of the same propaganda dribble. Soldier of Orange is a refreshing change with a very different perspective. It is a film that takes an unconventional route through a horrible war. Soldier of Orange also happens to be one of the best Dutch films ever made. Be sure to see it before you watch Verhoeven’s recent inferior film Black Book which also takes place during the German occupation of Holland. I conclude with saying that the obese queen of Holland was a less than admirable leader for that country during World War II.

-Ty E

1 comment:

Lord of Filth said...

I'd certainly like to check this out after reading this terrific review