The Forgotten Battle takes us to the Dutch province of Zeeland in the south Netherlands in September of 1944. Zeeland is occupied by the Germans, and houses many families that have chosen cooperative existence, including the Visser family. Teuntje (Susan Radder) is the daughter of a medical doctor who is assisting the Germans, while she works in the mayor’s office. Her brother, Kirk, has secretly joined the Dutch resistance.
Meanwhile, we follow Marinus (Gijs Blom), a Dutch citizen who volunteers his service alongside the Germans. His conflicted journey takes us through the film with mindfulness and humanity. With Marinus, we get to explore several sides of the war, behind the scenes and on the ground. In each encounter he shares a sort of struggle to chose what comes next. His dazed, thoughtful glances show how he questions his loyalty and decisions, as war tears through even the strongest men.
When Kirk is captured by the Germans, Teuntje discovers his involvement in the resistance. While she and her father attempt to negotiate Kirk’s unlikely release, Marinus remains cold. Teuntje is led by her friend to help move Kirk’s vital intelligence through the resistance channels.
The Forgotten Battle is a series of operations during the Battle of the Scheldt, led by the First Canadian Army and its allies. Their goal was to open up the shipping route to Antwerp to allow allied forces to travel through to Belgium. There are many failed operations during the five weeks of the Battle of the Scheldt. Finally, with help from the Teuntje and the resistance, the allies find a way to flank the Germans and regain control of the passage.
Visually, the film offers hints of a beautiful region now permeated by war. Both the costumes and the set design are filled with shades of grey and very little color. The battle scenes are chaotic and unforgiving. The performances drive this film, with evenly paced dialogue and thoughtful actions. Based on true events, this story led me to research more history, and that’s a good thing.