SOLDIER OF ORANGE - In Dutch, with subtitles, at the K-B McArthur.
The brutality scene that opens the Dutch film "Soldier of Orange" turns out to be child's play. In a surfeit of prosperity, university students at The Hague have devised elaborately crude ways of playing the game of torturer and victim, all in good fun.
War, they must over the tennis courts, would be exciting. They get their wish right then (1938) and there (as the tennis club is bombed). The film continues, year by year by year by year by year by year by year (that's up to 1945), to show whatever happened to all those jolly boys. Alex turns Nazi, John is shot, Jacques keeps studying, Guus spies, Robby collaborates and Erik -- Erik is the big blong Soldier of Orange, who goes from one incredible act of heroism to another, many of them while wearing full evening dress, and arrives triumphantly back in liberated Holland with Queen Wilhelmina of Orange in tow.
Erik lived to write the book.
Between heroics are the big-time torture scenes. One of the Dutch boys usually gets sick observing these many truly sickening episodes, in case anyone misses the point that Nazis were sadists. But those incipient tendencies our heroes had themselves, at play, are never again mentioned.
The fact that the only sex partners Erik likes are women who are also sleeping with his best friends also passes without analysis -- war brings people closer together, it seems. And what of the queen in exile, dispatching Dutchmen on the suicidal mission of bringing resistance leaders from Holland to comparative safety in England so they will survive to be "the nobility" of a free Netherlands -- what about letting them finish the resistance?
But the war spirit has, it seems, wiped out any need for self examination. You know that the Dutch who have not actually sold out to the Nazis are good, because you have the snickering, evil Nazis for a comparison.
This lack of perspective is understandable in a hero, Erik Hazelhoff, writing about what he did in the war. In his friend Prince Bernhard, Queen Wilhemina's son-in-law and the film's "official patron" it may be a simple attempt at public relations.
But in a film industry bidding for international standing, it's a blunder or a flaw.