‘The Forgotten Battle’ (De slag om de Schelde) is a refreshing addition to the war genre that has been craving one for a while now. The film is set in the twilight of the Second World War when Germany’s demise seemed an inevitability. The Allied charge into Germany met a stern hurdle that indicated bleak chances of overturning. Despite losing most of their occupied territory in Western Europe, the Germans controlled the Scheldt river, and with it, the Allies’ supplies. If the war was to be won, it was at this critical juncture that the tide had to turn their way. A failure to do so would give Germans enough time to recuperate and out plan their enemies.
The film is partly shot in Dutch, English, and German languages. It shares a lot of structural and narrative similarities to Sam Mendes’ ‘1917‘. A map, that is the only way the Allies can topple the resistance, becomes the key to victory, like General Erinmore’s message to withdraw from the attack. These moments might not seem heroic or remarkable but were significant in shaping history as we know it today. Not only does ‘The Forgotten Battle’ not only achieves technical perfection with its realistic setups and authentic-looking special effects but also lends a compelling dramatic heft to the storytelling. Each of the protagonists – a British soldier, a Dutch Axis soldier, and a Zeeland native – start on different paths but converge together in heartbreak in the end. In a similar vein to most films depicting a world war, ‘Forgotten’ shares a kindred sentiment for war. Its critique of the brutality is craftily woven into personal stories of loss and sacrifice.
Related to The Forgotten Battle – WIND RIVER : HORRORS OF A FORGOTTEN COMMUNITY
There are both perspectives of the enterprising and reluctant – choice and lack of it dictating how the protagonists find themselves in their circumstances. While the Allied soldier participates in the suicidal mission of his own volition, the Zeelander is dragged into the war after her brother’s execution. This confluence has become an integral part of modern conventions, although is seldom done without glorifying or belittling either side. Admittedly, I thought the Resistance plotline was a bit rushed. It seemed to be underdeveloped in comparison to how well the other plotlines were groomed from the ground up. The shady leader is sprung upon us like he had to be introduced to justify Dirk’s actions. There was a lot that could have been extracted from this segment, something like Paul Verhoeven’s brilliant ‘Black Book’ but probably would not have fit the overall scheme of the film.
A noticeable criticism of ‘The Forgotten Battle’ and various other films dealing with the subject is the lack of recognition of the roles played by Canadian forces. It started with ‘Argo’ and continues with ‘Forgotten’. History books have documented the leading role the troops played in this war. The first and probably the only mention of a Canadian soldier was by Will when he meets Bill at the Allied camp. Besides that, they are mostly excluded from the narrative. Although it does not count as inaccuracy in representation, it certainly does dampen spirits to not see them included.
Susan Radder’s starring turn is pivotal in establishing the film’s emotional credibility. Her central performance glues the story together and acts as a sort of bridge between the two worlds. It is a bit surprising to see that she has not done more major roles in feature films. Teun, her character, showcases immense courage in the face of death and the possibility of ridding her father of another child.
Also, Read – NEWTON  – THE STORY OF A FORGOTTEN COMMUNITY
These unsung heroes are often resigned to the margins of lists counting and celebrating valor in books about war. They seldom make it to mass attention, remaining at the precipe of deserving respect. Gijs Blom, who plays van Staveren, is authentic as the troubled German soldier who tries his best to keep his morality intact in the most testing of times. Both the artists have some major praise and starring roles coming their way.
‘The Forgotten Battle’ is a tightly wound war film that works both because of the work in front of the camera and off it. It is a valuable addition to the recent trend of historical films picking out instances that do not make it to the mainstream conversation. Its winning special effects and actions sequences put it on par with any genre film worth its salt. Do not skip this one!