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|Index||34 reviews in total|
Having lived and worked in the Netherlands and knowing its language, I
have been interested in the Dutch cinema as well, particularly if
Rutger Hauer or Jeroen Krabbé present. There have lots of films on the
WWII been made, nicely versatile ones, as the period was one of the
most painful and complex in the country's history. Thus, I was eager to
learn how the war era was made compatible with such a sensitive topic
like man-boy relationship.
But the latter was not much visible in Voor een verloren soldaat (perhaps in the autobiographical novel of the same title - I have not read that); it was even not clearly visible if there was some mutual erotics at all. What we saw was a 20+ years foreign soldier acting as a caring mentor, showing a boy far from home and family new angles of life; besides, I do not believe that showing affection towards a boy would have been normally accepted by both the religious Dutchmen and militant Canadians in those days...
Anyway, the mood in the film is pleasant, performances realistic, and viewers obtain a nice overview of Friesland under slackening Nazi occupation. But do not try to find any sensationalism, as mentioned, it is a good depiction of friendship - with some affection - during a war period when many things and deeds are perceived in another way.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I knew beforehand that the movie was about the romance between an adult
and child, however, I was surprised how well the movie presented the
The movie offered fresh insight into situations where the child played a role in instigating the relationship. Jerome was not like the other boys in the movie, and was just as curious as anyone one else at his age. While forced or coerced pedophilia are inappropriate, situations where the child has inclinations towards their sexuality leading to situations like these often might create lasting fond memories.
I find it hard to believe this movie was released over fourteen years ago when it would still be hard pressed to enter production here in the United States.
Lastly, I thought the relationship between Jerome and the soldier was longer than a few days as some suggested in the comments. It seemed to me like they were they there for a few weeks and their friendship gradually turned into something more. (Edit: The brown spots left by their tents is more proof they stayed more than a few days)
Additionally, while some have commented that the soldier left without telling Jerome is indication that he took advantage of the child, I think he left without telling to spare Jerome and himself some heartache. I felt it was appropriate considering their relationship was extremely unorthodox and therefore they could not say their goodbyes in a similar fashion to their peers.
I caught this one during a brief engagement at a theater here that shows
films that never make it to the suburban multiplexes, and, not knowing much
about it, I wasn't surprised that one of our city's very few "art houses"
was willing to book it.
Reading the other comments on this IMDb site, the various "takes" pretty well sum up what I presumed would be a varied audience's take here in North America on this modest film. I thought it quite well-done, handling the subject matter as, possibly, only the Dutch would do it, that is, matter-of-factly and without too romantic an overlay. It seemed entirely credible to me that the character of the young Canadian soldier would act somewhat casually toward the younger object of his desire. In a wartime setting stories can happen that don't always lead to a lifelong commitment and those civilians who get left behind, fortunate enough to have survived the wartime strife but bereft of an attachment that does not endure, may have to struggle with memories that haunt them in ways that are not very constructive. I do remember wishing that Jeroen Krabbe, an interesting actor, playing the main character, Jeroen, as an adult, had more to do, but telling his part of this tale was obviously not something that the makers of this film wanted to focus upon.
"Voor een verloren soldaat" presents an interesting and challenging
relationship: that of a young Dutch boy and a Canadian soldier at the end of
World War II.
The enactment, presented as a long flashback, prompts the question of whether that relationship, which became intimate, is a natural and healthy one, or whether it innately is a prelude to long-term pain and confusion.
The boy, Jeroen, seems to handle the relationship well and enjoy it; however, in later years as an adult, his attitude and manner appears to have changed. What was childhood fun and relief from the boredom of war-town Holland is now in maturation, more painful and harrowing. The reflection now seems to invoke loss, disappointment and regret.
Can a child and an adult ever engage in a 'peer' relationship? While there may very well be exceptions, our thinking is that this rarely happens. The reality is that the adult always has a decided advantage over the child. There is no substitute for experience, and it therefore behooves the adult to respect the child, and not exploit them. While the child's values and personality is in the process of forming, the adult's natural responsibility is to assist, without imposing his/her own selfish inclinations upon the youth.
While the Canadian soldier seems kind enough, the mere fact that he has the experiential 'upper-hand' places him in control of that relationship. The result is subtle yet contrived guidance down the path toward loss of virginity. What may appear to be mutually respectful in this dramatization may really be disguised adult self-indulgence.
Who can absolutely say that the relationship was harmful to the young Jeroen? Based on his adult reaction to the memorabilia of his youth, however, Jeroen's final response seems to convey far more sadness than pleasure.
Bitter Sweet is how I would describe this movie.....As good as the movie is, The movie is not without it's flaws..Throughout the movie You get the feeling that the relationship between the boy and soldier is under developed. Also the relationship between the boy and other characters such as the boy's family lacks development.The acting has it's flaws but given the subject of the movie I can understand why this is the case. More Character development and this movie would have been near perfect.
12 year old Jeroen finds his Walt and then finds him again. Wonder if he does in the book. I think above all what Jeroen found was strength, i.e., strength of character to move on from this his first love and live a creative life. How sad he was until his helper at the dance school helped him get Walt's Dog Tag Number. My romantic imagination says they supported each other then for the rest of their lives after Jeroen found his Walt again. Thank you to the producer,director, and actors in this movie.
I had seen this movie about 10 years ago, and it didn't make that much
of an impression, despite its subject matter. But I thought it might be
ripe for re-viewing, so I watched it again last night. And it still
didn't make much of an impression.
Jeroen Krabbé (best known in the U.S. as the villain from The Fugitive) plays a choreographer who is overseeing rehearsals of a work of his, about "freedom." He gives his dancers vague directions that they can't really follow, and shows them videotapes of the Netherlands' liberation from the Nazis, and his dancers obviously just want him to shut up. So he returns to the Netherlands to recharge his creativity, and the majority of the movie is his flashback to his childhood.
12-year-old Jeroen (also the character's name in the movie) is shipped off from Amsterdam to the Netherlands in order to escape the Nazis. He arrives at the house of this Dutch family (who really do wear wooden shoes), led by the hhhhhhhhhhhandsome Hait, who very unobtrusively makes Jeroen welcome in his home.
So there's some adolescent shenanigans, then the liberation happens and some Canadian soldiers come into town to stay for a bit. One of them, Walt, takes an immediate shine to Jeroen, and pursues him pretty relentlessly. Their friendship grows, and I don't know, maybe I'm just way too outwardly gay, but the stepfather was warning Jeroen that "we don't do that sort of thing here" before it even seemed to me like anything had HAPPENED. But soon enough they are tastefully romping in bed together, and laying quietly together as Jeroen protests at being called a baby. "No," says Walt, "I just meant that you're my baby." Anyway, it goes on, and once it's over, we see that the adult Jeroen has somehow used his perusing of these memories to improve his choreography and the attitude of his dancersthough their work still looks really banal to me.
I just didn't feel it. As a homo with a big-time Daddy complex, I expected to be much more moved, or even involved, in the story. But the whole thing stayed at a distance. I never felt the love that developed between the characters, or the admiration or awe that Jeroen had for Waltas I said, it looked to me like they were just good friends, when the people in the film knew exactly what was going on. I suspect this happened because the filmmakers were so worried about keeping the whole thing tastefulwhich they dothat the deeper emotions that might have stirred up more troubling moral issues were flattened out. On the other hand, they do succeed in portraying Walt as somewhat predatory without making him a monster or creepy molester, and at portraying Jeroen's budding homosexuality, as well as his lack of comprehension of what's really going on between him and Walt.
-- Hey, check out Cinema de Merde, my website devoted to bad and cheesy movies (with a big subsection on gay films). You can get the url from my email address above...
This is an unusual film. Everyone in the movie is a nice decent
person. It is the story of Jeroen, a choreographer in present day
Jeroen is developing a new dance to be included as part of an upcoming celebration in commemoration of the liberation of the Netherlands after the war. Jeroen insists on speaking English. Ninety nine percent of what he speaks is in English. After a while it starts to get on your nerves because it doesn't seem appropriate. And the dance isn't going too well either. The leader of the dance troupe gently suggests that he try for a tighter focus. And so we go into the flashback which comprises most of the movie.
Jeroen is a young teenager in 1945. He is sent by his mother along with many other children to live with volunteer families in the countryside where living conditions are better than in the city. He is sexually aware and gay but things just aren't working out too well. His friend Jan knows about him. One day after playing in the river they remove most of their clothing so it can dry. Just for a game Jan strips naked and pretends to sleep. Joroen of course can't help looking even though he tries not to. Later when they're called to go home Jan tells Jeroen "don't tell anyone you saw my dick". And then there's Henk, the farmer's son. Henk and Jeroen share the same bed because there's no other room. But Jeroen is pretty much invisible to Henk. And so it goes until the Canadian army comes to town.
This is the only part of the movie I didn't like. The soldiers are depicted as soft, undisciplined and lazy. More like tourists than soldiers. That's not the way it is, especially in wartime.
And then Jeroen met Walt Cook, a gay soldier. Walt tells Jeroen "I knew what kind of a fellow you were the first time I saw you." "What kind of a fellow are you, Jeroen?" Jeroen doesn't speak English. Who cares?
They quickly become good friends. Really good friends. But they stop just short. Until one day Jeroen tells Walt he wants more. The film is so low key, not boring, just ordinary, and I was only half watching so it startled me when Jeroen practically broke into song when he told Walt he was ready.
Eventually the soldiers left without warning. The guys had souvenir photos of each other, but they were destroyed for various reasons. Jeroen was attending school and on the last day before he was to return to Amsterdam and his mother the headmaster assigned them the task of writing an essay "What Liberation Means To Me". And to illustrate it if they wished. Jeroen was still in his seat long after everyone else had left. He had been thinking about Walt, but regular people don't want to hear about that kind of thing. His paper was blank except for the title "What Liberation Means To Me", yes, in English, for the 99th time. Why? Because Walt spoke English, that's why.
This movie did not feel right for the relationship he was portraying -
a love affair between a 20 something guy and a boy just reaching
puberty. It is a love story.
I've met adults who've had sex with boys this age and I've met adults who had sex with adults when they were this age. Things just didn't fit so I got the book and read it. There is very little relationship between the book and the movie other than title, place and time frame. The book is a story about the repeated rape of a boy.
The thing that bothered me about this mediocre movie was the lack of any emotional content. It seemed like there was emotion but there wasn't. The book which unfolds entirely differently than the movie also lacks real emotion, just what I'd expect from an adult, the author, who was raped at a tender age. An 11 year old boy who has an emotional warm sexualized relationship with an adult does not lead an emotionless life as an adult. One who is raped, sex with no emotion and unwanted, usually becomes an emotionless adult whose main emotional expression is ready anger.
Get the book. It is worth reading. Skip the movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"For a Lost Soldier" is a beautifully filmed movie, and the actors did
very well with what they had.
What the two leading actors had, unfortunately, was a script that did not give their characters any motivation for falling in love.
There is not a single point in this movie where one finds any reason for the love between the young boy and the Canadian soldier.
The soldier doesn't rescue the boy's dog, protect the boy from an abusive father, or do anything else that might earn the boy's affection and loyalty (I am making these possible motives up; there is no dog or abusive father in the movie.)
One minute the boy and the soldier are noticing at each other; the next minute they are friends, and well on their way to being lovers.
I find this especially disappointing, because it is slick Hollywood films that are supposed to be superficial, not "sophisticated" European films like this one.
But I could name any number of lesser known, recent Hollywood movies that have more depth.
I could even name quite a few HBO movies and "after-school specials."
In the end, one must be satisfied with aspects of the film that have little to do with the relationship between the two main characters.
One thing I found very interesting in this movie was the religious piety and devotion of the Dutch people who lived in rural areas -- a real contrast to the secular orientation of Dutch urban life today.
Is there a schism between country and city today when it comes to religion (and related social values) in Holland?
I also found it touching that the Dutch family that took in the boy treated him so warmly, then asked for no thanks because they had only been doing their duty.
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