Winter in Wartime (Oorlogswinter) (2008)

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Released 2-Mar-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Madman Proprganda x 4
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 99:04
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (74:43) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Martin Koolhoven
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Martijn Lakemeier
Yorick van Wageningen
Jamie Campbell Bower
Raymond Thiry
Melody Klaver
Anneke Blok
Mees Peijnenburg
Jesse van Driel
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Pino Donaggio


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Dutch Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

†††† January 1945. Holland lies under Nazi occupation and a blanket of snow. Fourteen year old Michiel (Martijn Lakemeier) chafes under the German rule and has scant regard for his father Johan (Raymond Thiry) who as mayor of the village is required to co-operate with the German commander. He has more regard for his Uncle Ben (Yorick van Wageningen) who is involved with the Dutch resistance. When a neighbour passes Michiel information about the location of a downed English pilot, but is then captured by the Germans, Michiel takes it upon himself to find the pilot. He discovers Jack (Jamie Campbell Bower) hiding injured in the woods and determines to help him escape, enlisting his sister Erica (Melody Klaver), a nurse, to treat Jackís wounds. But when a dead German soldier is found in the woods, Michielís game turns deadly for himself and his family. As Michiel grows up fast, and has to face the consequences of his decisions, he comes to realise that the Germans have a Dutch collaborator, and that the penalty for discovery for those he loves is death.

†††† Winter in Wartime (original Dutch title Oorlogswinter) is a taut wartime thriller from writer / director Martin Koolhoven based on the novel by Jan Terlouw. Everything is seen through the point of view of Michiel which adds to the slow-building tension. We see only what he sees, and are caught with him in a web of uncertainty and deceit as he does not know who to trust and where to turn. The bleak, colourless winter landscapes, brilliantly captured by cinematographer Guido van Gennep, well mirror Michielís isolation as he struggles with life and death decisions that no 14 year old should be required to make. The story works well because Martijn Lakemeier as Michiel is excellent and indeed all the actors, with the possible exception of Jamie Campbell Bower, are very good, especially Raymond Thiry and Yorick van Wageningen. The Germans in the film are also not mindless thugs; although they do participate in brutal acts of repression, it is a German soldier who saves Michiel from drowning under the ice while the Dutch look on. That there is good and evil on both sides accentuates Michielís moral dilemma and adds a poignancy and balance to the film that otherwise might be lacking.

†††† Winter in Wartime won numerous Dutch film awards and was one of the highest grossing films in the Netherlands in 2008, outperforming films such as The Dark Knight. It is both a thriller and a coming of age story, an intelligent and tense film that benefits from excellent acting, beautiful cinematography and a taut script that only starts to fall down towards the end. Well worth a look.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† Winter in Wartime is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. Unfortunately, the original aspect ratio was 2.35:1, clearly shown by the theatrical trailer included in the extras that is in the correct ratio. The trailer is 16x9 enhanced and shows what the film should have looked like. This cropping of widescreen films is one of my pet hates and I have deducted 1 star from the video score in line with Site policy.

†††† Other than this disappointment, this is a very good looking print. Sharpness is great, blacks and shadow detail excellent, brightness and contrast consistent and skin tones natural, if pale. The colour palate is drab with greys, dull blues and white snow dominating, reflecting the northern winter climate. Only the red Nazi flags really stood out. I did not notice any film or video to film artefacts other than a slight instance of aliasing on a watch band.

†††† English subtitles are available in a clear yellow font and contain no obvious spelling or grammatical errors. The dialogue in the film is in Dutch, German and English and all are subtitled, including the English, which abbreviates the dialogue slightly.

†††† The layer change at 74:43 created a slight pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† Audio is a choice between Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps and Dutch Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps although, as noted, the film also contains German and English dialogue. I listened to the 5.1 and sampled to 2.0. The 5.1 provided a nice enveloping feel. Dialogue was clear, channels have separation and clarity, the surrounds are used for panning effects, such as aircraft, music and Foley effects and the sub woofer did support the action during the explosion without going over the top. The audio will not knock the walls over but it does a good job and is very effective. The 2.0 is surround encoded and there seems little difference between the audio tracks from the portion sampled.

†††† Lip synchronisation is fine.

†††† The orchestral and choral score by Pino Donaggio was lush and epic sounding without being too bombastic. It was effective although nothing memorable.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (1:53)

Madman Propaganda

†††† Trailers for other films from Madman. Included is North Face (2:38), Glorious 39 (2:03), Amazing Grace (2:32) and Five Minutes of Heaven (1:53).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† I did not find another current DVD release of the film. There are Region B Blu-rays in England and Germany with only the trailer as an extra.

Summary

†††† Winter in Wartime is both a thriller and a coming of age story, an intelligent and tense film that benefits from excellent acting, beautiful cinematography and a taut script that only starts to fall down towards the end.

†††† The DVD has excellent video but is in the incorrect aspect ratio, good audio and a trailer as the only relevant extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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