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Anchor Bay presents
Soldier Of Orange (Soldaat van Oranje) (1977)

"A spot of war would be quite exciting."
- Erik (Rutger Hauer)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: July 27, 2001

Stars: Rutger Hauer, Jeroen Krabbé
Other Stars: Susan Penhaligon, Edward Fox, Lex van Delden, Derek de Lint, Huib Rooymans, Dolf de Vries, Eddy Habbema, Belinda Meuldijk, Peter Faber, Rijk de Gooyer, Paul Brandenburg, Ward de Ravet, Bert Struys
Director: Paul Verhoeven

Manufacturer: Crest National
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (Nudity, violence, mature themes)
Run Time: 02h:35m:13s
Release Date: April 24, 2001
UPC: 013131125399
Genre: war


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AA-A B-

DVD Review

Soldaat van Oranje (Soldier Of Orange) is part of Anchor Bay's first wave of The Paul Verhoeven Collection, which also includes The Fourth Man and Turks Fruit (Turkish Delight). While I found Turk's Fruit a bit hard to swallow, Verhoeven has delivered a masterpiece in Soldier of Orange. Inspired by his own recollections of the period and its effect on Dutch society, this film follows the lives of a group of Dutch college students, as the Netherlands finds itself living under German occupation in the early 1940s. Verhoeven again calls on Rutger Hauer to play his main character, based on the true story of Dutch war hero, Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, who would become an aide to the county's Queen Wilhelmina.

The story opens with the introduction of the main characters, a group of Leiden University students whose common bonds and experiences make them seem inseparable. On September 3, 1939, two days after the Nazi invasion of Poland, Britain declares war on Germany. The Netherlands maintains its neutrality, but in April 1940 Germany invades Denmark and Norway. As rumors of war emerge, most believe that The Netherlands will remain neutral in the conflict, but that "a spot of war could be exciting."

On May 10, German bombers attack The Hague, and The Netherlands is officially at war. Four days later, Holland surrenders, Queen Wilhelmina and the royal family flee to England and make London the official Dutch capital as the country begins a period of Nazi occupation.

As the Dutch adjust to the newcomers, their society begins to split in two: those who support the Nazis and their anti-semitic policies, and those who would actively resist as part of the Dutch underground. Erik (Hauer) and Guus (Jeroen Krabbé) try to sign up for the Dutch army, while Robby (Eddy Habbema) sets up a transmitter to relay information to the Allies as a member of the underground. With his parents shunned for their German background, Alex (Derek de Lint) joins up as an SS volunteer, while John (Huib Rooymans), who is Jewish, is captured and tortured. As this tight knit group of students make their way through the days that lie ahead, their individual choices and fates will test the strength of their friendship. For them, the war is an adventure, with the consequences of their actions not fully realized until their friends begin to die and their allegiances are questioned, whether internally or under the coercion of outside forces.

The subject matter of Soldier Of Orange struck a nerve in Holland upon its release, as the truth about the extent of Nazi sympathizers during the war is a topic the Dutch would rather downplay. Verhoeven manages to be very even-handed in his treatment of the various characters, never attempting to over simplify their motives, elicit unwarranted sympathy or be judgmental. The cast attends to their characterizations flawlessly, the cinematography is artfully designed and executed. The film has a very natural flow, spotted with the director's trademark forthrightiousness when it comes to violence and nudity, which are displayed unapologetically, and without much fanfare. Soldier Of Orange is an exceptional motion picture, and an excellent war epic I can recommend without reservation.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Anchor Bay has provided another splendid transfer for Soldier Of Orange. The anamorphic 1.66:1 image (correctly windowboxed) is pretty near defect-free, with a soft, yet natural look with no signs of edge enhancement. Film grain is well preserved; colors, though not overly saturated, are well rendered with consistent black levels. I often wonder why AB's titles often surpass the quality of major titles from major studios. I'm a happy camper on this one.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoDutchno


Audio Transfer Review: The original Dutch audio track is clear and well defined, with no signs of hiss or distortion. Rogier van Otterloo's score projects nicely, with a full spectral range.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Paul Verhoeven
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Still gallery
Extras Review: The main supplement is the feature-length audio commentary by director Paul Verhoeven. Once you get past the accent, Verhoeven is a man with no shortage of words; the stories and insight into the film are endless, and there is never a dull moment. Whether discussing the technicalities of a shot, or more often than not the stories behind scenes, a lot can be garnered from this most informative track. I'm extremely glad Anchor Bay was able to secure Verhoeven's involvement in these DVD releases, as they elevate an already great presentation.

A teaser trailer presented in anamorphic 1.66:1 and still gallery containg 54 images including on-set, behind-the-scenes and publicity photos, lobby cards, poster and program art. Extensive talent biographies for Verhoeven, Hauer and Krabbé are also included on the disc. The back of the cover insert contains an essay on the film, and the heavy card tray insert features a poster replica backing the listing for the disc's 32 chapters.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

An exciting and fascinating film, Soldier Of Orange is an interesting look at the German occupation of Holland through the eyes of six college friends, and the diverse fates that befall them. As a war film, it excels in exposing the espionage, coersion, deceit and choices facing those involved on both sides of the campaign. Verhoeven's even and nonjudgemental handling of both Nazi sympathizers and the resistance makes for a compelling tale, based on a true story. Anchor Bay has once again bested its major studio competition with a well featured disc and an excellent transfer. Recommended.

 


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