Winter in Wartime (film)

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Winter in Wartime
Winter in Wartime (film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Martin Koolhoven
Produced by San Fu Maltha
Els Vandevorst
Written by Mieke de Jong
Martin Koolhoven
Paul Jan Nelissen
Based on Winter in Wartime 
by Jan Terlouw
Starring Martijn Lakemeier
Yorick van Wageningen
Jamie Campbell Bower
Music by Pino Donaggio
Cinematography Guido van Gennep
Edited by Job ter Burg
Release dates
  • November 17, 2008 (2008-11-17) (Amsterdam premiere)
  • November 27, 2008 (2008-11-27) (Netherlands)
Running time
103 minutes
Country Netherlands
Language Dutch, German and English
Box office $9.1 million

Winter in Wartime (Dutch: Oorlogswinter) is a 2008 Dutch war film directed by Martin Koolhoven. The screenplay was written by Mieke de Jong, Paul Jan Nelissen and Martin Koolhoven and was based on the novel, Winter in Wartime by Jan Terlouw.

The film was hugely successful in the Netherlands out-grossing competing films like Twilight and The Dark Knight. It was the highest grossing film in the Netherlands during Christmas 2008 and the first weeks of 2009.

It was also chosen by the Dutch Critics as the best Dutch film of 2008, it won the PZC Audience Award (best movie based on a novel), three Rembrandt Awards and three Golden Calf awards. It was chosen Best Film by the Young Jury (14–18 years) at the Rome Film Festival and was shortlisted (with 8 other movies) at the Academy Awards, in the section Best Foreign Language Film.

It was released in the United States by Sony Pictures Classics on 18 March 2011.[1]


The film is about a young Dutch boy named Michiel van Beusekom who tries to help the Dutch resistance during World War II by helping a British airman stay out of German hands during the occupation of the Netherlands.

Michiel feels resentment towards his father, the mayor, who is seemingly only interested in maintaining the status quo between the town and the German Army. He worships his Uncle Ben, an adventurer in contact with the local resistance. During the winter, Michiel's loyalties are tested.

An allied plane is hit in the air and crashes, but before it hits the ground, a young British airman is able to escape by parachute.

One of the villagers, Dirk, helps the airman, Jack, but Dirk is arrested. Before his arrest, Dirk gives Michiel a letter to be delivered to Bertus, the village blacksmith. Before Michiel can deliver the letter, Bertus is shot and killed by the Germans.

Michiel opens the letter, which directs him to Jack's hiding place in the forest. Jack is injured, and Michiel enlists the aid of his sister Erica, a nurse, to take care of him. Jack and Erica soon develop a romantic relationship.

Michiel's father is arrested when the body of a German soldier, killed by Jack on the night of the plane crash, is found in the forest. Jack wants to turn himself in to save Michiel's father, but Ben tells Michiel he can save his father. Ben's efforts fail, and Michiel's father is shot by the Germans.

Michiel tries to take Jack to the town of Zwolle, across a river, but the Germans foil their attempt, and the two narrowly escape after a chase through the forest. Michiel finally turns to his Uncle Ben for help in getting Jack to Zwolle. Ben agrees, and Ben, Jack and Erica set off for the bridge to Zwolle. As they leave, Ben tells Michiel that Dirk should never have gotten Michiel involved with Jack. After they go, Michiel realizes that he had never mentioned Dirk's role to Ben. Quickly checking Ben's suitcase, he finds papers showing that Ben is working for the Germans.

Rushing to the river, Michiel stops the trio, grabs Jack's pistol, and confronts Ben. While Michiel guards Ben, Jack and Erica succeed in making it across the river to Zwolle. Ben tells Michiel that he had arranged for his father to be released, but that his father refused to let another villager be shot in his place. Ben attempts to escape to a passing German patrol, but Michiel shoots and kills him.

A few months later, Allied soldiers enter the village and are rapturously welcomed by the villagers. One of the soldiers brings a letter for Erica, presumably from Jack. Michiel hesitates to join in the celebrations after all that has happened, but finally joins in.



The budget of the film was estimated €4 million. Filming locations in the Netherlands included Amsterdam, the communities Herwijnen and Wijchen in the province of Gelderland ; Lopik in the province of Utrecht, Zwolle in Overijssel, as well as the communities of Megen Woudrichem in North Brabant. Two other locations were situated in Lithuania in Silute and Vilnius.


The film premiered in Amsterdam on 17 November 2008. It was released in Belgium on 3 December 2008, and in Germany was shown at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2009. Other film festivals Winter in Wartime was shown include the South Korean Pusan International Film Festival, the Rome Film Festival, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and three Canadian European Union Film Festivals.


Around 900,000 people in the Netherlands and around 60,000 people in Belgium saw the film in cinemas.

Critical Acclaim[edit]

On the movie-rating website Rotten Tomatoes "Winter In Wartime" was rated 74% "Fresh", and 6.5/10.[2]

The film was short-listed for the Oscar Best Foreign Language Film.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Holden, Steven (2011-03-17). "Teenager Encounters Adulthood and Nazis". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-18. 
  2. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved 10 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "". Retrieved 10 March 2012. 

External links[edit]