Johanna 'Hannie' Schaft tells, in flash-backs, how she decides during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, to interrupt law studies to 'do something for real'. She joins the Dutch resistance, which uses her in missions to 'eliminate' collaborators. Even her parents may not know. Tough colleague Hugo initially looks down upon her girlish hesitations, but they fall in love. A failed attempt to shoot SD-informant de Ruyter puts the Germans on their trace.Written by
Feminism must not have been very strong in 1981 in the Netherlands if this film gained any popular acclaim there. I say this because "the girl with the red hair," Hannie Schaft, an actual member of the Dutch Resistance to German occupation in World War II, isn't favorably depicted. She is shown as constantly conflicted about and uncomfortable with her resistance work, doesn't do any of it well, and repeatedly fails. Thus she is just what we would expect from a "fragile female" trying to perform "men's work"--the exact stereotype that the real Hannie Schaft struggled so much against. Therefore, if this film ever played well with Dutch audiences, it could only have been because the filmmakers managed to elicit sympathy for the protagonist by making her every bit as weak and uncertain as they imagined the women in the audience to be. But in reality, people who take on dangerous espionage, sabotage, and assassination work (or join the military)--and who stay with it any length of time--aren't like the rest of us. They gain a toughness and skill which allows them to succeed, as the real Hannie Schaft did--enough to make the German occupiers want her dead, even as the war was ending. Moreover, this film is historically superficial in its treatment of Schaft, failing completely to cover or even mention her sabotage work or include her famous partnership with the Oversteegen sisters (the very resistance fighters who helped immortalize her after the war).
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