Based on real events, Soldier of Orange tells the story of Dutchman Erik Lanshof (a star-making performance by Rutger Hauer) and a small group of students as they struggle to survive the Nazi occupation to the end of the S... more »econd World War. The destinies of the characters range from joining the German army to making for England, the OSS, and the Resistance. Across a canvas lasting almost three hours, director Paul Verhoeven unfolds a saga of friendship, espionage, and romance with almost documentary realism--though not as graphically violent as his later American films, the torture scenes are intense--crafting a deeply affecting film widely regarded as the greatest ever made in Holland. Comparable recent films such as Enigma (2001) and Charlotte Gray (2002) do not come close. Hauer is brilliant at the heart of what is a detailed and thoughtful drama made with integrity and passion. Twenty years later in 1997, Verhoeven made Starship Troopers, a satirical science-fiction companion to this modern European classic. --Gary S. Dalkin« less
"I first saw SOLDIER OF ORANGE several years ago and then rewatched it this week. My reaction to the film on the second viewing was very different. I've visited the Netherlands many times (my mother was Dutch descent) and have known for years Rotterdam was leveled by the Nazis. Since it has been completely rebuilt, the sadness of the WWII bombing for me until now has been that I could no longer visit the lovely old buildings that existed before the war. How shallow I have been.I live 5 blocks from the Pentagon, and on Sept. 11 when I drove home from work, I saw first hand the aftermath of an act of war. (My husband saw the blast from his office window.) I have friends who were in NYC or the at the Pentagon on Sept. 11. My friend Mike was in NYC for a meeting and packing to return when he heard the first explosion. As the first tower fell, he ran like mad from the Marriott that used to be in the WTC complex. Mike was barefooted and cut his feet to pieces. I asked him why he did not slip on his shoes before he ran. He says he did not want to appear in public wearing loafers with no socks. As Mike ran body parts rained down on him. He is shaking and breaks down in tears everytime he talks about it, but his psychiatrist tells him to keep talking about it. So, when I watched SOLDIER OF ORANGE last night, and I saw Rutger Hauer's reaction to seeing body parts and broken babbling people after a Nazi bombing, I understood how little I had known before Sept. 11 and that bravery is relative. Some people like Donald Rumsfield stay on the job and pull people out of the wreckage. Some people run like mad. Some hide until the dust clears. Not until terrible events occur do any of us know how we will react.Verhoeven's rendering of SOLDIER OF ORANGE is brilliant. The story concept is straighforward--follow the experiences of an ordinary group of young Dutch men who are all friends at university, who over the course of the film experience the halcyon days of college life and the destruction of their homeland via war and its aftermath. Verhoeven shows how each of these young men reacts to events beyond their control. These are ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances. A few of them do end up in uniform (opposing sides). One man cannot stand to see a Jew mistreated and he intervenes to his sorrow. Another has a German mother so he joins the Nazis. One is Jewish and must attempt an escape. Another hides out and continues his eductation, acquiring his degree behind closed doors. Another dies in a concentration camp. Yet another joins the RAF after a series of misadventures and becomes a hero. Someone once said to me they thought Tom Hanks was miscast in Speilberg's RYAN, to which I replied, but he's just like my Uncle Paul who received a battlefield commission and a chest full of medals when he was the last man standing in a fight in southern France. Gentle Uncle Paul who went home to Illinois after the war, resumed his life as a printer and never did another bold thing. I think this story is fabulous--an exploration of how real people behave during unreal times, which Verhoeven seems to understand. My DVD is excellent with vivid shots of the Netherlands and England twenty years ago when folks still rode bicycles. What a hoot to see a troop of soldiers on bikes!! (The film contains some hilarious scenes, even in war funny things happen.) The DVD contains a commentary with Verhoeven and others similar to the CRITERION films."
Why the Soldier was Orange!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the only film that captures that thin line between heroism and betrayal in the Dutch experience from the innocence of that autumn of 1939 until the early days of Liberation in 1945. The uniqueness of this film lies in the character of the author/main character, Erik (played by Rutger Hauer) and his friend who both were "one of the few who stood up to be counted" joining a fledgling resistance in the early part of the war and lived to tell the tale.
The director, Paul Verhoeven retains a Dutch matter-of-factness, which combined with the superb soundtrack by Rogier van Otterloo infuses the film with a sense of anticipation never before or since achieved in a Dutch film.
It is no coincidence that the tale starts at pre-war Leiden University, which was founded as a direct result of the First Dutch War of Independence in 1575 and was closed in 1941 because its staff and students protested and went on strike against discrimination of its Jewish Professors. A poignant final scene in Wassenaar brings home that also in peace the innocent can still be a victim.
The portrayal of the indomitable Dutch Queen Wilhelmina (played by Andrea Domburg) and her special relationship with her "Engelandvaarders"("The England Bound") shows why the Orange factor acted as the focal point for maintaining Dutch national integrity.
The film allows a unique two and a half-hour window on what the Dutch faced in those five years.(This review refers to the 1995 Dutch edition)"
An Excellent Movie From Verhoeven
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 09/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a first-rate movie of WWII and, in my view, the best movie Paul Verhoeven has made to date. The Germans invade The Netherlands and a group of six university friends are caught up in the events that follow. Some join the Resistance and remain in the country, one tries to ignore what's happening, two escape to England to be trained for a dangerous mission, one joins the SS. The lead character is played by Rutger Hauer. It is he and his friend, played by Jeroen Krabbe, who make their way across the Channel. The movie is long but moves briskly and is full of incidents that are gripping and cinematic. The mission that sends Hauer and Krabbe back to their country goes very wrong, and people die as a result. The Hauer character, who was based on a real person, survives the war. Most of his friends don't. One who does, managed to survive by having to make a terrible choice. In fact, all the choices this group of friends make are simply shown with the consequences. There are no false heroics or tin nobility. Perhaps because of this, the movie was not especially well-received when it first opened in The Netherlands.
If any of Verhoeven's movies are watched forty years from now, I suspect this will be the one. Starship Troopers and RoboCop are a lot of fun, but they're essentially comic book movies before comic book movies became Hollywood's latest fashion. Total Recall and Basic Instinct are, to me, efficient but little more. Soldier of Orange is the work of a guy who understands a character-driven story and who has the skills to turn it into a dramatic but still character-driven movie.
Hauer and Krabbe are both excellent. Krabbe continues to work at being an excellent actor. He takes the money for some foolish stuff, but also selects many interesting films to appear in. But what happened to Hauer? He took on so many fifth-rate starring roles it was almost as if he were challenging someone to dare try to talk to him about his choices. I don't know if it was pig-headed self-destruction, but I find it hard to look at Hauer's career without shaking my head. And he is so good in this movie.
If you like RoboCop and Starship Troopers -- and I do -- (or Fatal Instinct or Total Recall), do yourself a favor and check out Soldier of Orange. I doubt you'll regret it.
The DVD transfer is excellent."
Soldaat van Oranje
pje911 | Sydney, Australia | 04/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is an absolute Dutch classic! It is about a group of Dutch students who meet at their fraternity initiation in 1938 in Leiden. We follow them from the tense pre-war days to the end of WWII. They take a photo of their group just before the war starts. From there they drift in different directions. Erik Lanshof gets involved in the resistance, while Alex decides to join the Waffen SS. It tells the universal story of courage and betrayal. One of the most dramatic moments for me was at the end of the movie when they show the pre-war photo of all friends, knowing what had happened to all of them. Every time it leaves me with a feeling of great sadness about the suffering that the war has brought. Arguably the best scene is where Erik enters occupied Holland and ends up in the middle of a German drinking party. To his surprise he finds Alex there and they dance a most remarkable Tango. My grandmothers both experienced life in occupied Holland and I heard from them first hand stories about betrayal and abuse of power. I can only imagine by watching this movie what it must have been like. I have seen this film many times over and, a sign of a true classic film, it only gets better."
Soldier of Orange - DVD with commentary by Verhoeven
Klaas W van der Molen | San Jose, CA United States | 05/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Soldier of Orange with commentary by Director Paul Verhoeven is a must-see for all history buffs, WWII historians and lovers of war movies. Based on the life of Erik Haselhoff Roelfzema, it chronicles his life in the resistance and that of a small group of law students in Leiden, The Netherlands. Verhoeven's commentary is worth the price of the DVD as he explains scene by scene what he tried to portray, while asking some very thought provoking questions. Verhoeven and I are the same age, and both of us lived in Holland during the occupation. His view of the conditions in Holland and the responses of the Dutch under occupation are very different. I also think his references to Das England Spiel are inaccurate. Having said all that, I still consider the DVD one of my most favorite productions, including the film itself. Soldaat van Oranje is my choice for best ever Dutch film. Those interested in learning more about the real Eric Hazelhoff Roelfzema should read "Soldaat van Oranje Omnibus" which includes "De Verre Tamboer (The Distant Drummer)" and "Op Jacht naar het Leven (In pursuit of Life)" all by Eric Hazelhoff Roelfzema."