Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Action,Drama,Foreign,Romance Soldier of Orange (Verhoeven, 1977)

Soldier of Orange (Verhoeven, 1977)

Soldier of Orange (1977), directed by Paul Verhoeven ( Robocop, Basic Instinct, Black Book) and starring Rutger Hauer (Bladerunner and Robocop), Jeroen Krabbe’ (The Prince of Tides, Ocean’s Twelve) and Susan Penhaligon, is based on the memoir of the Dutch war hero Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema.

Holland, May 1940.  Six young, rich and dandy college students and fellow fraternity brothers, studying at the University of Leiden are living the years of their golden youth, spending their time playing tennis, going to parties and living a glamorous lifestyle when suddenly the world they know falls apart with the occupation of Holland by the Nazis. What first appears as a sort of game to these youths, soon becomes a battle for survival as each of these six friends must endeavor themselves to escape or to artfully resist, each one in their own manner, the German Nazi occupation. Erik, the main character in the movie, joins the Resistance Movement and with one of his fraternity brothers, Gus, is able to flee to London (after a previously failed attempt which costs the life of one of their friends) where they are engaged by Queen Wilhelmina of Holland (exiled to London for the duration of the war) to formally conduct the Dutch Resistance movement and safely conduct freedom fighters to England.

Deployed as spies of her Majesty to sabotage the Nazis’ efforts in Holland, Erik and Gus plan to cripple the German front in Holland but, as their plan goes awry, they are confronted with the harsh reality that not always friendship can survive the divisions of war and find themselves having to take sides against some of their longtime college friends who have become counterspies operating for the Germans.

An entertaining history and spy movie, Soldier of Orange, notwithstanding its length (over 2.5 hours), will keep you on the edge of your seats. The debonair, dashing style of Erik and his friends recalls something of James Bond (just that this is a true story) and makes it all the more pleasant to watch, as we see them swinging across the dance floor in their tails with glamorous women in evening gowns in their arms. The music in this movie is particularly appropriate in conveying lurking danger and intensely dramatic moments.

In conclusion, this movie is well directed and is a seamless blend of a love story, historical novel and a classic spy story. This same format is found again in Verhoeven’s Black Book (2006), so if you enjoyed watching espionage operations set in wartime Europe in that film, you will also enjoy the first of Verhoeven’s masterpieces, which remains after more than thirty years a powerful war film.

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