Soldier of Orange

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Soldier of Orange
American film poster
Directed byPaul Verhoeven
Written byErik Hazelhoff Roelfzema
Kees Holierhoek
Gerard Soeteman
Paul Verhoeven
Produced byRob Houwer
StarringRutger Hauer
Jeroen Krabbé
Derek de Lint
Edward Fox
CinematographyJost Vacano
Edited byJane Sperr
Music byRogier van Otterloo
Excelsior Films
The Rank Organisation
Film Holland
Rob Houwer Productions
Distributed byTuschinski Film Distribution (Netherlands)
The Rank Organisation (United Kingdom)
The International Picture Show Company (United States)
Release date
  • 1977 (1977)
Running time
149 minutes
LanguagesDutch, English, German
Budgetƒ 5 million (€2.3 million)

Soldier of Orange (Dutch: Soldaat van Oranje, IPA: [sɔlˈdaːt fɑn oˈrɑɲə]) is a 1977 Dutch romance-thriller film directed and co-written by Paul Verhoeven and produced by Rob Houwer, starring Rutger Hauer and Jeroen Krabbé. The film is set around the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II, and shows how individual students have different roles in the war. The story is based on the autobiographical book Soldaat van Oranje by Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema.

The film had a budget of ƒ 5,000,000 (€2,300,000), at the time the most expensive Dutch movie ever. With 1,547,183 viewers, it was the most popular Dutch film of 1977.[1] The film received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 1980.[2] At the 1999 Netherlands Film Festival, it was voted the second-best Dutch film of the twentieth century.

The film was released under the name Survival Run in the U.K.[3]


Set during World War II, the film is about students in Leiden, the Netherlands: Erik Lanshof, Guus LeJeune, Jan Weinberg, and Alex. Robby Froost is Erik's friend; Esther is Robby's girlfriend. Some collaborate; others join the Dutch resistance.

It begins with a flashforward: an immediately post war newsreel of Queen Wilhelmina returning to the Netherlands. The film then moves to the late 1930s in Leiden, where freshmen undergo the initiation rites of their fraternity. Erik is picked out by Guus, the chair, who drops a bowl of soup on his head, injuring him. Guus apologises and offers a room in his student house. There, the students (Erik, Guus, Jacques, Jan, and Alex) drink to their friendship.

In September 1939, an English radio broadcast interrupts their tennis, announcing the declaration of war against Germany. Initially, they are unalarmed, believing the Netherlands will remain neutral as in World War I. Jan, a Jew, and Alex, who is half German, join the Dutch Army. In May 1940, Germany invades. Erik and Guus try to join up, but are fobbed off. Soon, the Netherlands capitulates after the Rotterdam Blitz.

Robby is in contact with the Dutch government-in-exile via a radio transmitter in his garden and offers Erik a flight to London. Jan, a boxing champion, assaults two fascists harassing a Jewish hawker, so Erik offers his seat to Jan. However, the Germans intercept the pick up: Jan is captured but Erik escapes.

Erik sees Alex marching in a departing military parade of the Waffen-SS. Later, Erik is also captured. Jan tells him, based on his interrogator's comment, that a Van der Zanden in London betrayed them. Jan, who resists interrogation, is executed on the Waalsdorpervlakte dunes. Robby's radio is discovered, and he is forced to work for the Gestapo by their threat of deporting Esther, a Jew, to a Polish labour camp.

Erik and Guus flee for London on the Swiss cargo ship St. Cergue.[4] In London, Erik meets Van der Zanden (modelled after general François van 't Sant) and tries to kill him. However he is not a traitor, but head of the Dutch Central Intelligence Service and a private secretary to Queen Wilhelmina. Guus begins an affair with Susan, a secretary in British intelligence. Erik and Guus agree to rescue resistance leaders for post-war roles. Guus is taken ashore and meets the leaders. As Guus' radio has been damaged by seawater, they use Robby to contact London.

Erik then follows to arrange Guus and the resistance leaders' departure by sea. However, Robby has infiltrated the group and so the Germans have followed them. Erik sees Robby with them and tries unsuccessfully to warn them. After ducking into the beach mansion party for cover, seeing Alex and dancing ballroom tango with him, Erik meets the others on the beach. When Robby realises Erik knows about his collaboration, he fires a signal flare. Despite German warnings, the group tries to flee but the leaders are killed. Guus escapes by swimming, but only Erik reaches the ship.

Guus later shoots Robby in the street. He flees, but is caught and guillotined. On the Eastern Front, Alex is killed in a latrine by a hand grenade from a boy he had mocked when the boy begged for food. Erik becomes an RAF bomber pilot and is later appointed aide to Queen Wilhelmina, and accompanies her home. Erik finds that Dutch citizens have cut off Esther's hair as punishment for her and Robby's collaboration. She says she bears no grudge. Finally, Erik celebrates the end of the war with a fellow student, Jacques ten Brinck, who also survived.


  • Rutger Hauer as Erik Lanshof, a student in Leiden who joins the resistance.
  • Jeroen Krabbé as Guus LeJeune, a combination of Ernst de Jonge, Peter Tazelaar and Chris Krediet [nl], a student and friend of Erik who also joins the resistance.
  • Susan Penhaligon as Susan, a British soldier and secretary to Colonel Rafelli.
  • Edward Fox as Colonel Rafelli, the British officer who runs the missions Erik and Guus undertake to the occupied Netherlands.
  • Lex van Delden as Nico, another of the students.
  • Derek de Lint as Alex, a half-German student is first drafted into the Dutch army before joining the Waffen-SS after the German victory.
  • Huib Rooymans [nl] as Jan Weinberg, a Jewish student and boxing champion.
  • Dolf de Vries as Jacques ten Brinck, a student friend of Erik who continues his studies at Leiden University.
  • Eddy Habbema [nl] as Robby Froost, a friend of Erik who operates radio communications for the resistance.


The film won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Foreign Film in 1979.[5] One year later, in 1980, it received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film,[2] but the French-Italian film La Cage aux Folles won the award.

In the vote for best Dutch film of the twentieth century at the Netherlands Film Festival in 1999 Soldier of Orange won second place behind Turkish Delight, another Paul Verhoeven film.[6]

The film was selected as the Dutch entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 50th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[7]


Theatre Hangar Valkenburg

On 30 October 2010, the Soldier of Orange musical premiered in the Netherlands. It was shown in a special theatre converted from an old hangar at the former Valkenburg Air Base in Katwijk. Instead of having the sets changing on the stage, the area where the audience sits revolved to different stages (using a system named SceneAround), which included a set with a recreated beach and an artificial sea and a set containing a real Douglas DC-3 Dakota plane. The musical has since been performed in other cities, including London.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Soldaat van Oranje Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine at
  2. ^ a b Soldier Of Orange at the website of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association
  3. ^ "SURVIVAL RUN | British Board of Film Classification".
  4. ^ ST. CERGUE History,
  5. ^ Previous Years' Winners 1979 Archived 2006-09-03 at the Wayback Machine at the website of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association
  6. ^ "Turks Fruit gekozen tot Beste Nederlandse Film van de Eeuw". Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  7. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  8. ^ "Music Theatre - Official site". Soldier of Orange. 2019-03-26. Retrieved 2020-07-26.

External links[edit]