What I was writing it for?: I was intending this to be my second series of related reviews (if you count my reviews of The Picture of Dorian Gray and Wilde as my first review series). I was going to do this as a look at the first films the stars of the Harry Potter franchise, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, starred in after the world of wands and wizards ended.
Why did I stop writing?: Probably because I had just gone into hiatus for the first time. I think I was trying to write a review I could bank for publishing for when I finally left my hiatus but you can see how well that went. On the plus side though, leaving this meant I could focus on my Traditional DreamWorks film series.
And now the review!
Now the question that’s been burning on your lips or destroying your keyboard: what the hell is Into the White? Well that’s not surprising as it is a Norwegian film amassed a whopping $704 at the box office. Now don’t be thinking it’s because no-one wanted to watch it. At least I hope that’s not the reason. It did get a limited release in Norway so no wonder at the small financial haul. But where its monetary gain is small, its contribution to the great annals of great films it has contributed quite nicely. Guess it’s time for the obligatory overview!
With the Phoney War over, Nazi Germany making great progress in toppling Denmark, the Netherland and is now on its way to taking over the frozen land of Norway. A race for resources and raw materials begins between the British and Germans and, amongst all this chaos, two planes are shot down.
Luftwaffe pilot Horst Schopis (Florian Lukas), Karl-Heinz Strunk (Stig Henrik Hoff) and Josef Auchtor (David Kross) crash land in the Norwegian tundra and, having lost their plane and one of their men, they burn their plane and set off into the wilderness to find the coast. However a storm blows in and, fortunately, they find a small hunting cabin where they take refuge.
But they aren’t alone for long as, out of the white, comes British Captain Charles P. Davenport (Lachlan Nieboer) and Gunner Robert Smith (Rupert Grint). Faced off against each other, Schopis decides to let them in their hut, leading to incredibly human moments amongst the unforgiving wilderness and war going on outside their cabin door.
Sounds good doesn’t it? No… well I thought it sounded good… Anyway, before the review proper, here’s a quick side note on something that irritated me. I won’t put you in any suspense but the UK release decided to drop the title Into the White, instead going for the more generic sounding Cross of Honour.
I don’t know why they did this. Were there legal reasons against putting their release title on a DVD box? Were they unhappy with the title? Did they think the public won’t understand what the film means and so they replaced it with a title that was probably thought of in a focus group discussing “Vaguely Sounding War Film Titles”? I don’t know but Into the White seems to have more relevance to the film than Cross of Honour. But anyway, that’s just a point that annoyed me that wasn’t the film’s fault.
Although his post-Potter career hasn’t exactly been hit after hit like his counterpart Emma Watson, who just seems to becoming a bigger star on and off-screen all the time, Rupert Grint’s portrayal of Robert Smith seems to be exemplary of his acting talent.
Now I know this will seem a weird sentence but trust me and my self-belief in my reviewing talent, which isn’t that great but trust me anyway. Here it is: Rupert Grint does an amazing Liverpudlian accent. Yes, the Essex boy gets the Liverpudlian spot on. I know it’s weird. That scruffy ginger lad from Harry Potter sounding like a born and bred scouser? Impossible!
But trust me, he does, and not only that but his acting is brilliant. While he has done other films outside Harry Potter, I feel this is the role that finally let him, and the viewer, to disentangle the symbiotic life Rupert Grint and Ronald Weasley seemed to share, with Grint finally becoming something much more.
Grint’s performance is all at once touching and funny and, while his story line is a bit of a B plot in comparison to that of Nieboer’s and Lukas’, it somehow became the more memorable. His chemistry with the hulking, mostly silent, figure of Stig Henrik Hoff as Karl-Heinz Strunk, who plays off Grint so beautifully and has a great performance in his own right, is testament to the film’s strength in both actor’s abilities and script brilliance.
Nieboer and Lukas also have brilliant chemistry as well, although somewhat different to that of Grint’s and Hoff’s, nevertheless remains compelling. While Grint and Hoff are seen more as the working men of the film, Nieboer and Lukas present the elite, especially Nieboer as the aristocratic Davenport, even commenting that he had never cooked before. Theirs is more of respect than anything else and it works very well, highlighting how command structure eventually evaporate in such desolation and isolation, leaving them as what they truly are, two humans.
But enough complimenting the actors, the real question is does the film have a good message? Well yes. Too brief an explanation? Ok, here’s a bit more. Into the White feels a bit reminiscent of Joyeux Noël as both are set on the premise of opposing forces meeting in peace while war rages on around them and are distinctly anti-war in feel. But Into the White’s barebones cast and setting gives it a more intimate and one-off feel that makes you feel more part of the group of survivors than Joyeux Noël where you were just caught up in the whole peace at Christmas vibe.
But Into the White has a different feel compared to Joyeux Noël as, while the Christmas truce of the First World War was an act in a war where men were sent towards each other, guns in hand, for reasons they were not sure of, the Second World War does not have the feeling of pointlessness that the First World War did. In a war of political ideologies, there seems somehow less room for manoeuvre and peace between the opposing sides, especially having the experience of total war behind them. Yet for this to happen seems weird and wonderful.
It’s also quite good at showing how strange we are on our divisions, with the hut being divided into the British side and German side, as well as their criticisms of each other’s systems, with the British criticising Germany’s expansionism which is then swiftly dealt with by Lukas, commenting on the British Empire and making the jagged point on unrest within it, especially the Indian Independence Movement.
But the film is at its best when they aren’t talking about high ideas, but the simple things like their love, work, talents and copious amounts of alcohol. When they are just being people instead of bodies behind uniforms, the film really begins to shine as something worth owning and sharing.
While there are some missed opportunities, such as having David Kross as more of a plot device than as a fully formed character liked the other four characters, building up to one scene where those who are bit squeamish may turn away from, Into the White is a solid anti-war film which, although not making an original point, makes it well, showing how at the bottom of us, underneath all our national allegiances and political opinions, we are just human, clinging to a rock hoping to survive. And what better way to make that point than by in a middle of a snowstorm and based on actual events? Not many.
I hope you enjoyed that review and hopefully I’ll be able to shed light on my little list of reviews that never ended up getting to the publishing stage. If you liked what you read here please follow me here on WordPress as well as Facebook and Twitter for more Chronic Chronicler-ness! Also don’t forget to vote for the two books I’ll be reviewing at the end of February for Febookuary. Please go to My Plan for 2015 so you can vote for a favourite books (because you get TWO VOTES!!!) or one of the options I’ve given. Get there before the voting ends at midnight on January 31st!