Film review: The Forgotten Battle
I recently watched The Forgotten Battle on Netflix – a film about the Battle of the Scheldt in 1944, and we can certainly say that the title is well chosen – this battle could do with more attention, even in the Netherlands; so even if the film itself is rather forgettable (on which more later), it is good that some attention is being paid to this unfortunately obscure part of World War 2 history.
That, immediately, is also the major point in favour of the film: its subject. Another point is that surely this must be one of the very few major feature films in history where members of the Glider Pilot Regiment play major roles (not even A Bridge Too Far managed that), and as far as I can tell it’s reasonably historically accurate, for a film anyway. The action scenes aren’t all that bad either.
Unfortunately, all that is kind of ruined by the far-fetched plot. It starts promising enough: we have a glider crew in training for Market Garden, a Dutch family of a doctor father, a Resistance son (who’s providing the Allies with intelligence of the German retreat and maps) and a daughter who works at the Mayor’s office, and a Dutch SS volunteer who gets wounded in the East and posted back to his home country.
And that’s where my interest in the plot stopped. I don’t want to spoil too much, but basically the glider crew gets shot down on the way to Arnhem, lands in Zeeland and has to figure out a way back to Allied lines, and the family gets into a spot of trouble – and the SS guy has to deal with being back in his own country as an enemy soldier. All this against the backdrop of the Canadians trying to set foot on Walcheren. I get what the film is trying to achieve, but as far as I’m concerned, it just doesn’t manage to keep viewers interested in what is going on.
So, on the whole, if you want to watch a movie about the Netherlands in World War 2, go watch Black Book (whose plot is just as ludicrous, but much more entertaining) or maybe A Bridge Too Far. This one is a well-meaning, but sadly failed, attempt at generating some interest for an unjustly forgotten battle.
I guess it tries to do too much in the movie. Too many perspectives. Probably because of the subsidies so that the movie can be used in conjunction with an educational package for teenagers. Same problem in De Oost (The East) about the Dutch in the Indonesian War of Independence (1945-9) that came out at the same time.
Yes, I’ve been putting off watching De Oost – I’m very interested in the subject, but I’m afraid it will just be a terrible experience. I’m told that a lot of the film has been lifted from the comic Rampokan anyway, so I might just buy that…