When it was originally released in the Netherlands in 2008, more Dutch people went to see Winter in Wartime than went to see The Dark Knight or Twilight, two of the biggest movies of all time. They were so excited about this lovely Dutch movie that they gave themselves like one million Golden Clog Awards (I made that up) for “Best Dutch Movie Ever.” And they weren’t wrong—Winter in Wartime is a sad, surprising film. And a little overblown in the third act, but we will let that slide. Because: Dutch!!!
Michiel van Beusekom (yay, Dutch!) is a rosy-cheeked Dutch boy who’s just trynna have a good time even though it is totally World War II up in his Dutch village. Michiel is young, but he knows a few things. For instance: He knows that Nazis are complete assholes who will yell at you for just being a snoopy kid, he knows his uncle Ben is a totally awesome underground resistance fighter, and he knows that his dad (the mayor) sometimes glad-hands with the aforementioned Nazi jerks, which kind of makes his dad a jerk, too (he thinks). Michiel comes across a wounded Royal Air Force pilot in the forest, which seems neat to a kid, and naively takes it upon himself to smuggle the man out of Nazi territory (a horse is involved). The adventure does not go as planned. Seeing as this is a coming-of-age tale, Michiel rapidly goes from knowing just a little to knowing way too much. Seeing as this is a World War II tale, Michiel’s moments of disillusionment are unflinchingly brutal.