Requires an open mind, but surprisingly a fine movie
firstname.lastname@example.org | United States | 12/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Because of its extremely risky subject: A friendship that develops into a romance between a 20-30-something Canadian soldier and a 12 year old Dutch boy, ?For A Lost Soldier? is no doubt destined to remain in the very obscure, little-seen foreign film file, which is unfortunate. The first half of this film is reminiscent of other great coming-of-age war films like John Boorman?s ?Hope and Glory?, but takes a very offbeat twist when the boy, Jeroen, meets Walt, the somewhat melancholy but friendly soldier. While some may be unsettled with the idea of a boy and a man having a romantic relationship, the story really focuses more on the friendship and the rites of passage of a boy growing up. World War II must have been a terrifying experience for many of the children of Europe, especially when you are sent far away from your family and surrounded by people and places you don?t know. Never being graphic, this sometimes haunting film delicately deals with themes of love, loneliness, friendship and abandonment. An enjoyable mix of light-hearted moments and touching, poignant moments as well. Directed with grace and class, there?s a lyrical beauty and lush tone to this film which is subtle and under-stated. The audience is invited into the sleepy Dutch countryside and the simple lives of a peaceful, tolerant people. This movie is much more than an offbeat, foreign ?gay love story?. ?For a Lost Soldier? is a charming and captivating film that will stick with you long after you?ve seen it. It deserves to be seen."
Well made film about a powder keg sexual issue
Get What We Give | Georgia | 06/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For a Lost Soldier is a quiet little film about subject matter that no American filmmaker would touch with a ten foot pole. It is a touchy matter even by international standards. However, somehow the Dutch are able to address the issue of love between a man and a boy without making it purile and scandalous. Dutch filmmakers seem to be the only ones able to touch such "iffy" subject matter and make it far less "oogy" than it could be.
First of all, this really isn't a movie about sex or sexuality so much as it is a film about love and loss. That is why it works.
The time is the early 1940's. The place is Amsterdam and rural areas outside of Amsterdam. The situation is that Amsterdam is suffering from the Nazi occupation and the lack of supplies this has brought about. Residents of Amsterdam are shipping their children off to the country to live and work on farms so that they will have food to eat and a warm bed in which to sleep.
This is very frightening stuff if you allow yourself to be transported as one of the children. They've been uprooted and shipped away from home to live with strangers, who may or may not be kind to them. They have fear as a constant companion as they worry about their parents and about the sounds of war in the distance.
Our protagonist, Jeroen, is a fresh faced boy of 12 and he has been placed with a family who actually wanted a girl not a boy. While the family is basically kind to him, Jeroen doesn't understand farm life and is slow to adjust. His "best" friend is another boy, by a year or two, who has been uprooted and sent to the country as well. The older boy is obviously in the throes of puberty, whereas Jeroen really hasn't hit that point in his physical development. Still prepubescent by a few months or so, Jeroen doesn't understand the lust for the girls and would rather be companions with other boys. He hasn't yet developed that male female connection that the older boys have. He and his friend wander the countryside and discover a plane that has crashed in the water (killing its occupants). This is the first time that Jeroen sees the naked body of a boy/man. This is also a turning point for him. He is made to realize that being naked with another boy is not something normal - "Don't tell them you saw me naked" his friend tells him.
Later, Canadians arrive on the scene and liberate the residents of the countryside town. They are all ecstatic and grateful for the newfound freedom. The young women and the expatriated Amsterdam girls quickly flirt with the young soldiers. This provides them with chocolates and coca colas as well as sexual perks for the soldiers.
This also brings about the films' greatest flaw. As viewers, we can comprehend where the filmmakers are going with the subject matter. However, on screen the transition from acquantaince to lover between Jeroen and one of the soldiers isn't as straightforward as one would expect. Undoubtedly, even the Dutch will allow only so much to be revealed of such touchy subject matter.
Jeroen and one of the soldiers, Walt, strike up a hesitant friendship. It is quite plain that Walt is flirting with the boy, but what is also quite plain is that not only is Jeroen flirting, knowingly right back, but that he seems to be taking the lead in relationship developing beyond just simple platonic relations.
Walt is identified as gay by a couple of statements he makes. "I thought right from the start that you were my kind of boy, Jeroen." That is actually rather creepy, since it means that Walt is truly a pedophile. However, Jeroen knows what Walt means. He's come to realize (and so have we) that Jeroen is gay as well. He may not have ever been with another boy before, but he knows who and what he is.
When the sexual aspect of the relationship is actually consummated, it is handled so subtly that you might miss it. What is somewhat mystifying however, is that the soldiers under Walt seem to know what is transpiring between he and the boy and they pass no judgment nor do they do anything to prevent or stop it.
Anyway, when the soldiers pull out of Holland it is quick and Walt isn't man enough to face up to the fact that he will leave behind him a boy who is desperately in love with him. He sneaks off during the night. Jeroen is destroyed. It is only his mother's reappearance that helps him make it through the situation. However, it is also her reappearance that causes him to state that he is moving to Canada. We know he wants to find Walt.
Most telling of all is that the film is actually a flashback - a rememberance - by Jereon as an adult, a (supposedly) gifted coreographer, who is creating a dance for the fortieth anniversary of Holland's liberation from the Nazis. He can't get the dance steps right and it is only through his memory of his time with Walt that he can bring the beautiful dance to life.
There are a couple more, quite poignant moments that occur that I will not tell you about, because they should bring a few tears to your eyes, from joy and sadness.
If you can get past the subject matter as we view it today, and focus on the fact that this is still a love story - one of unrequited, or rather unfulfilled, love, you will find yourself enjoying it quite a bit.
The language is primarily Dutch, with a few lines of English here and there."
Touching and Bittersweet
email@example.com | 10/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Perhaps a bit taboo for most US audiences, I found this movie to be touching and bittersweet. Based on the autobiography by Rudi Van Dantzig, "For A Lost Soldier" takes place during the end of WW II in the Netherlands. It's the story of a young boy in Amsterdam whose parents send him to live in the country (Friesland) for his own safety. A family who had initially asked for a young girl ends up being young Jeroen's "adoptive" family. Jeroen is coming of age, being the tender age of 12, and is making discoveries on his own, especially his sexuality. He doesn't necessarily understand his feelings at first, until the arrival of the Canadian Liberators in 1945.One particular soldier, Walt Cook, takes an interest in young Jeroen and a friendship blossoms between the two. Heit, Jeroen's adoptive father, sees that there is more to their friendship than meets the eye, and lets him know that he sees what's going on. This doesn't bother the other soldiers, however. In fact, as other soldiers are courting young girls in the village, so does Walt "court" young Jeroen. The two fall in love with each other, and a sexual relationship does indeed develop.Perhaps it's Walt not wanting to face the hurt Jeroen will eventually face, but he fails to tell Jeroen that his platoon will be leaving. Jeroen is crushed when he realizes that Walt is gone the next day, and tries in vain as he searches the village for him. A heart-breaking scene.But Jeroen's mother returns for her son, and the first thing he tells her is "I think you should know I am going to America!"The film has some beautiful cinematography. Maarten Smit was excellent as Jeroen, as was Andrew Kelley (who is a dancer in the Royal Dutch Ballet) who played Walt. Rudi Van Dantzig, himself, has choreographed for the Royal Dutch Ballet, and it's obvious he had a hand in choosing just the right person to play the "Lost Soldier". This kind of film couldn't have been made anywhere else due to the age of young Jeroen. Overall, an excellent film. Haunting, brutally honest, and bittersweet."
D. Richardson | 03/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The plot in this movie is very simple: a man revisits his childhood home only to relive the memory of his first love. The twist in this is that the first love we are talking about is a Canadian soldier in the aftermath of WWII when the narrator was just a teenage boy in rural Holland. ~[Gulp]~ Extremely well written and acted. The tender relationship between the protagonists is dealt with in a very mature and serene fashion, devoid of our American Puritanism. Jeroen and Walt obviously need each other at a time when the world is falling apart and they develop a comradeship that turns into a love which is never made to seem dirty, perverted or wrong. A pioneering effort. Leave it to the Dutch to be so civilized."
D. Richardson | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 01/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'For A Lost Soldier' is a film which I have watched several times! It deals with a volatile topic, the story of a very young boy who fills a gap in his life in the arms of a young Canadian soldier in World War II. Since the story is based on the autobiographical book by Rudi Van Dantzig, it is not whimsy or fiction, but rather a glimpse into one man's pleasant childhood memories. Rudi Van Dantzig defends the book and the film in the context that he was NOT abused by the soldier! The director took some liberties with the film, both in the introduction and again at the end, but otherwise stayed fairly true to the story. The movie challenges one's ideas regarding consensual sexual relationships which involve an adult and a minor in a specific situation. If anyone was seduced in the film, it was the soldier, according to Van Dantzig. The boy is in control and very aware of what it is that he wants from the soldier at all times. The event happened during the liberation of Holland and the liberation theme is tied closely to Van Dantzig's description of his personal liberation.
The film also gives a vastly different view of life in Holland under German occupation. While the movie and book, 'The Hiding Place' portrays the horrors of Nazi power in a large city, this film shows what life was like in a remote village. The boy's ration card, so carefully guarded in the city, is not even recognized by his 'adoptive' family. They appear to eat well and their village is only guarded by two German soldiers. The soldiers are so bored, they attend the local church service on Sundays, even though the minister is raining down hellfire and brimstone on the German forces in his sermons. One movie with two new concepts to explore, makes the film a basic to any good collection."