After Schindler’s List (1993) and Inglourious Basterds (2009) is there really a need for another WWII movie about the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews? It can be argued that each country and/or group of people has their own story to tell about the war, but if that’s the case, they need to know what makes their story unique and how to tell it.
Based on the book Return to the Hiding Place by journalist Hans Poley, War of Resistance is the tale of the Nazi’s persecution of Jews in Holland and the youths who took a stand to hide and save the Jews from persecution.
I’ve not read Return to the Hiding Place, so I have no idea how true the film is to the source material, but I hope the book is more interesting. War of Resistance suffers from a few subpar action sequences that are loosely joined together with several scenes of people arguing and debating what to do next. Often it is unclear what the resistance is planning and the viewer is dropped into a scene with little or no knowledge of the goal, much like the resistance.
One of the more interesting scenes features the Jewish Eusi (John Rhys-Davies) debating with Corrie (Mimi Sagadin) and Betsie ten Boom (Joanie Stewart) about if it is just to lie to save the lives of others. It’s one of the few powerful scenes in the film. The most painful scene to watch is a poorly shot chase scene across rooftops that incorporate some embarrassingly bad green screen effects.
There’s a mix of acting quality with John Rhys-Davies and Stass Klassen (who plays Colonel von Laeman, the Nazi we love to hate) leading the pack and the other players weighing in various places on down the line.
The cinematography and editing often feel awkward, but I’m not sure what was wrong with it. The film looks crisp and is often pleasing to the eye, but less so to the mind. The cinematographer, Philip Roy, has a few film credits to his name, so it may be a case of a failed experiment or perhaps the writer/director, Peter C. Spencer, was unclear as to how to best present his script, and Poley’s book, in a visual format.
Although War of Resistance is based on true events, this does not mean the film is allowed to lack in its visual and storytelling elements. Powerful visuals and storytelling is what separates films like Schindler’s List and Inglourious Basterds from the multitude of films on this subject.
War of Resistance is out on DVD now.
Director: Peter C. Spencer
Writer: Peter C. Spencer (screenplay), Hans Poley (book)
Cast: John Rhys-Davies, Mimi Sagadin, Craig Robert Young, Stass Klassen
Runtime: 123 minutes
Country: Netherlands, USA