Rupert Grint Press Archives

Unsentimental brotherhood

Petter Næss has made a film about brotherhood between enemies during the Second World War, and he has managed it without falling into the traps of sentimentality.

Sentimentality and lack of credibility are the pitfalls when making a film about brotherhood between enemies during the Second World War. Director Petter Næss avoided both of those with the help from a solid and subtle style of storytelling.

I went to the screening with a certain sense of skepticism since early trailers revealed that we will be seeing British and German soldiers working together to survive the wild Norwegian winter mountains. Why should we believe this – why don’t the three German shoot the two Brits, or vice versa, as soon as the two parties collide in a desolate cabin?

But the scriptwriters and the director indicate that guns aren’t always the easiest in the wilderness. At the same time, Næss understands that he has to use a lot of the screen time to challenge the project of brotherhood before there can even be talk of cooperation, and not just friction inside of the windy walls.

In the beginning, the atmosphere becomes really toxic when the German Lieutenant Horst Schopis (Florian Lukas) draws a dividing line over the cabin floor and keeps the two Brits as prisoners of war in one end of the room.

While the blizzard sends icy winds through the thin timber, the most hot-tempered guys try to hit the opposing party with scorn and mockery. Luckily, the director has picked talented actors to shape distinctive characters and lets them speak a believable mixture of German and English.

On the British side, the highly educated fighter pilot Davenport (Lachlan Nieboer) forms a striking contrast to the man from Liverpool’s working streets, Robert Smith (Rupert Grint), who spews his contempt towards Nazis in a popular manner. Great character portrayal.

On the German team, the spectrum is also well taken care of. Lieutenant Schopis emerges as a German man of honor, Sergeant Wolfgang Strunker (Stig Henrik Hoff) is a silent, persistent warrior while Corporal Josef Schwartz (David Kross) is the hard dedicated Nazi who we are taught to believe all German were like.

Now, it takes a lot of dramatic increase, both on the outer and the inner level, to keep a five man chamber play going without having the audience lose interest. But the script constantly offers new twists while the food and firewood decrease and the infection increases rapidly in old wounds.

When death threatens and the enemies finally decide to work together, the director has succeeded in his objective: We’ve become so familiar with strengths and weaknesses of the individuals that we want them to survive, all five of them.

Refining the image of the enemy can only be done decades after the end of the war. Nevertheless, you can say that “Into the White” has been made before. Næss humanizes the counterpart just like director Christian Carion did in “Joyeux Noël” (2005): In order to celebrate Christmas Eve during the First World War, Scottish, French and German soldiers put down their weapons and become friends in the trenches for a moment. But that film fell slightly into a ditch of sentimentality. Instead, Næss uses the northern lights to create an amazingly beautiful unifying image: Under the night sky we’re all equal, regardless which coat of arms adorns the uniform.

Translated by Malene.

Original article found here: | March 10, 2012

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