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He Said, She Said Review Site

Into the White

What She said:


One of the challenges of reviewing movies each week is dealing with the constant struggle of finding films that I’m actually interested in.  I know, I know, a real movie reviewer would watch anything and everything, regardless of whether or not they want to.  But hey, until someone else is fronting the bucks to watch these films, I’m going to attempt to invest in movies that I might actually like.  So, often The He and I find ourselves sitting there sifting through lists and lists of available titles.  There are times we pretty much give up on watching anything because there is nothing that peaks our interest.  By the way, if you ever have suggestions, please email us.  I think part of the problem is that we just don’t know the full scope of what’s out there.

Into the White

Anyway, last weekend, we once again found ourselves sifting through lists.  This film, Into the White, caught my attention because I’m a World War I and World War II junkie, and the movie’s about some WWII planes shot down over Norway.  I didn’t even realize that it stars, among others, our little Ron Weasley aka Rupert Grint.  Shot on location in Norway and Sweden, the movie tells the story of British and German airmen who shoot each other down in a firefight over the Norwegian tundra.  It’s based on a true story, and apparently Norway was a location of contention during World War II because of its vast underground natural resources.

So, each side shoots the other down, and the survivors end up stranded in a freezing hell hole of ice and blowing snow.  They each happen upon an abandoned hunting cabin around the same time, and thus begins our story of how these soldiers from opposing sides fight for survival, come to rely on each other, and slowly become unlikely friends.  Of course, this is war and things can’t end exactly as you would expect, so there are some twists and turns along the way.

The movie, in my opinion, was actually pretty good.  Rest assured, it’s shot in English, despite the fact it was produced by a Norwegian film company.  There are subtitles here and there when the Germans speak their native tongue, but it’s easy to move past that, even if you’re one of those people who has problems with subtitled movies.  I wouldn’t let that turn you off to this one.  Initially, I found some of the characters to be dopey and annoying.  I was bothered by the main German airman, Horst Schopis, because he seemed to suffer from some serious short-man syndrome.  The British soldiers weren’t much better.  Capt. Charles Davenport seemed pompous, and Robert Smith was way too edgy.  But as the movie went on, I began to appreciate what each of these characters brought to the table and why they were the way they were.  Schopis has some serious self-esteem and identity issues.  I actually really liked the character of Karl-Heinz Strunk, who was sort of a big oaf who served as Schopis’ second in command.  He ended up being surprisingly funny.

Into the White

There are obvious downsides to this film.  It didn’t seem to have much of a budget, and so they couldn’t even show the aircraft firefight that started it all.  It’s just a bunch of shadows and sound effects.  Some of the dialogue is weakly written at times, although it remains fairly authentic.  Rupert Grint aka Ron Weasley tends to teeter on the verge of overacting throughout the film, but he was passable, and the other actors were very strong.  It took a certain amount of skill to make an hour and forty minute film that takes place largely in just one location interesting to watch.

Overall, I thought this film was actually decent.  For a movie that grossed only $704.00 in the U.S. (I’m totally not lying about that number), it appealed to me.  The reason for the low U.S. box office total is because it apparently only played once in one theater here.  This was an overseas venture that generally had a very limited release.  Considering the budget, it was fairly well shot (did not seem like a Lifetime movie or anything), and the story was intriguing.  I would certainly watch it again, and would recommend it to those who are interested in war movies.  No real combat here, but it’s a somewhat fascinating exploration of the psyche of war.

Thumbs up.

Into the White

What he said:

Into the White

On April 27, 1940 two planes are show down in Norway. One plan is a German aircraft, the other is a British one. Now here’s something to ponder – they shot one another down! Ain’t that some shit?

The crew of both aircrafts survive and are forced to look for shelter. The Brits spend the first night in their plane, while the Germans set up shop in a makeshift igloo/cave thing they’ve built. Both groups know these shelters are not good enough for the harsh conditions they are facing, so they set out on a journey to find more viable accommodations. Now if you thought it was a major coincidence they were the ones to shoot each other down, you’re going to love this. They both end up coming across an old hunting shack in the middle of nowhere. As you can imagine, this makes for some interesting situations.

Horst Schopis is the officer in charge of the German group. He (Florian Lukas) is uptight, but a pretty civilized guy, especially when you consider he’s a Nazi. His number two is a big lug of a guy named Karl-Heinz Strunk. Strunk (Stig Henrik Hoff) is quiet and followers orders well. The last member of this group is Josef Auchtor (David Kross). Josef is a good little Nazi soldier. He is very loyal to the cause and does not take it lightly when the British soldiers speak their mind on his ideals.

So anyway, as I was saying, Horst is a pretty reasonable guy. His group is the first to show up at the cabin and when they see the Brits coming, he actually offers them shelter on the condition that they are considered prisoners of war. I forget exactly what was said, but I believe he thinks he will have better options if he has prisoners (or hostages). Plus, unlike Josef, he simply doesn’t want to kill them. Josef wants to shoot them point blank and Horst isn’t having any of that. He doesn’t fancy himself a murderer.

Charles P. Davenport (Lachlan Nieboer) is hesitant to agree to these terms, but he also knows he’s going to freeze to death if he stays outside another night, so he reluctantly agrees. His gunner, Robert Smith, is not happy with this decision, but accepts it, because he too doesn’t want to freeze to death. Smith (Rupert Grint) is a fiery guy butts heads with Josef a lot over the Nazi’s actions.

Tension is high, the balance of power shifts a few times, but if they are going to survive they are going to have to work together.

Into the White

As the She mentioned, this is a very low-budget movie. There are no fancy effects at all. It’s a small movie. It’s not really a war movie at all, but rather story about people. It takes two groups of people from complete opposite sides of the war and puts them in a situation where if they don’t put aside the fact that their countries are trying to kill each other, they’re going to die. It takes a certain kind of person to be able to do that. Not everyone is capable of that kind of decision. The movie examines if these five individuals are capable of becoming that kind of person. It’s a very human story.

The movie’s style feel a little bit like a play or a made for TV movie. Rupert Grint was trying a little too hard at times – as was David Kross – and the guy playing his superior officer was a little hammy at times. He had a very theatrical vibe going on. That being said, that is how actors acted in older movies, and this felt like an older movie, so it wasn’t a major downfall or anything.

I thought the guys playing Strunk and Horst were the standouts. The more you get to know Strunk, the more you like him. He’s kind of a big lovable dope. I know, I know, he’s a Nazi, but he’s not like Josef – who can’t stop talking his führer in all his greatness – at all.

Florian Lukas put on a pretty solid performance as Horst. He’s not all “Mein Führer!” like Josef, but  he is still very professional. He takes pride in being organized and just a good all-around soldier. He’s not insane like you would think of when you think of a military that dedicated itself to tyranny and genocide. He’s got a good backstory too.
The movie’s simple setting worked in its favor. The movie’s plot did not call for anything large or extravagant, so its simplicity felt natural. If there was a bunch of unnecessary effects it would have ruined the movie. It’s not the best movie ever made, but it’s a decent little movie. It reminded me a little bit of Red (review here). Not the storyline, but it’s tone and feel.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on July 6, 2014.