Norway Release Date: 03-09-2012
Directed by: Petter Naess
- Florian Lukas, as
- Leutnant Horst Schopis
- David Kross, as
- Unteroffizier Josef Schwartz
- Stig Henrik Hoff, as
- Feldwebel Wolfgang Strunk
- Lachlan Nieboer, as
- Captain Charles P. Davenport
- Rupert Grint as
- Gunner Robert Smith
Lachlan Nieboer and Rupert Grint in Into the White
Hollywood seems to make fewer and fewer World War II films these days. Lucky for me and anyone else fascinated with the time and events, they are still being produced in Europe. Into the White is an intimate, small budgeted film based on actual events in which German and British airmen shared an isolated Norwegian cabin during a blizzard.
The movie opens with a Nazi plane being shot down in the frozen mountains of Norway. The three surviving German crew members; Lieutenant Horst Schopis, Josef Schwartz and Wolfgang Strunk set out to find the coast but end up taking shelter in a deserted hunters lodge. They are soon joined by British pilot Captain Charles P. Davenport and his gunner Robert Smith. Schopis greets Davenport with a smile and a handshake but Davenport and Smith have attitudes about having to share the cabin with the Germans and go about riling up the Germans at every opportunity. This causes the Germans to make the unarmed British their prisoners instead of guests.
Schopis and Davenport begin a contest of wills and intellect. Their ideals clash but they have much in common. Neither wants to reveal a weakness to the other and each takes any opportunity they can to impress the other. Over the course of the film we see that both men are flawed.
Meanwhile, Smith goes about antagonizing the Nazi zealot Schwartz and the silent Strunk. When using the bathroom outside, Smith yells at Strunk, “Hey Skunky! How come you're not cold? Maybe you're too fucking stupid to feel cold.” Schwartz is a proud owner of an autographed copy of Mein Kampf. Smith sends him over the edge when he uses pages of it as toilet paper, “Hey Josef! I have to say, chapter two was a little rough on my ass.”
The friction eventually turns into a friendship. They are all soldiers just trying to survive. Their common problems create a common bond. The rest of the world may not so easily understand and a rescue could prove troublesome.
The European cast is mostly unknown in the United States. The exceptions being David Kross, who was in The Reader (2008) with Kate Winslet and of course Rupert Grint in his first role after Harry Potter. Grint steals much of the movie as the comic relief. When Schopis asks Smith how he first impressed his girl, he sarcastically responds, “Right, I showed her my cock and she fainted.” My favorite scene in the entire film is when he sings "Over the Rainbow" horribly, as he takes a piss and stares at the aurora borealis.
The message of Into the White is much like that found in Joyeux Noell (2005). As citizens of this Earth we are all more similar than we may ever think. It is far too often that our religions and our governments force us into battles with men that we truly have no real issue with. Peace is a concept muddled and manipulated by those who want power and it is the average man who pays the price for it.
Lachlan Nieboer, Florian Lukas, Stig Henrik Hoff, Rupert Grint, and a spectacular view in Into the White.
Into the White beautifully demonstrates the commonality of the human experience. As Eric wrote, these warring soldiers are forced to live together and help each other in order to survive the elements. They are removed from the big outside world, and the war raging in Europe. After a few changes in power they eventually give up the struggle and begin to cooperate together. They then proceed from being wary strangers to becoming good friends.
The story moves briskly. It's refreshing seeing a movie that runs just longer than 90 minutes these days. It's also interesting to note how these bonds form. In a world without borders Schopis and Davenport would be closer friends than Davenport and his fellow British soldier Smith. Smith, likewise, would be closer friends with the German Strunk than he is with Davenport. This movie points out that personalities from clashing cultures can sometimes click better than two people fighting in the same army.
Some of the bonding is a bit obvious. The scene where Schopis and Davenport have to work as a team to -literally- hold the roof up comes to mind. I thought the friendship between Smith and Strunk to be more believable actually. This is a dramatization of a true incident so I don't know exactly how much was fabricated and how much really happened. Both Schopis and Davenport wrote memoirs later in life. I'm not sure why but the script used the real names of the German soldiers but changed the British soldiers' names.
It was filmed on location in the Norwegian wilderness. The outdoor shots are spectacular (see photo). You can tell from the ruddy cheeks on the actors' faces just how cold it was. Into the White shows a more intimate view of war than most films. It raises that age old question of the common soldier. Just what the hell are we fighting for? And where else are you going to get the chance to hear Rupert Grint sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” while pissing?
Photos © Copyright Zentropa International Norway (2012)