The year is 1945 and Holland is still under Nazi occupation. During the closing months of World War II, a young Dutch boy named Michiel (Martijn Lakemeier) finds himself in a quandary when he discovers a wounded British RAF pilot. Faced with the perplexity of turning him in to the German Army or helping him, young Michiel decides to aid the pilot knowing very well if the enemy discovered them, they would both would face execution. Directed by Martin Koolhoven, Winter in Wartime is a gripping melodrama with hints of a thriller that tells the tale of a fourteen year old boy in a snowbound occupied country. He despises his mayor father Johan (Raymond Thiry) for conciliating with the Germans but worships his Uncle Ben (Yorick van Wageningen) who’s in the Dutch Resistance. As Michiel aids the pilot he finds himself involved with the Resistance, however as the conflict comes to an end, the young Dutch boy soon discovers the horrors and the ugly realities of war. Michiel is soon forced to realise that the people he knew and loved aren't always what they seem.
Under the pale skies, snowy sceneries and bitterly cold winter, this Dutch film based on the novel of the same name by Jan Terlouw, is a gripping examination of oppression, fear and heroism. As the fourteen year old Michiel is faced with moral absolutist, between doing what is right or endangering himself and his family. The film gives a bleak perceptive view of how people acted in times of war, especially this war. When occupies facilitated with the German army for their own personal gain, towns were divided by political or ethical views. Martin Koolhoven shows how partisans, loyalist and resistances lived in this small occupied Dutch town. However, the dangers they faced was shown when the occupiers would condemn anyone to public executions that worked or aided the revolution. Winter in Wartime gives an insight into a time when men and women were once occupied and what they did during the occupation. Did they act in valour and stay loyal, or were they traitors to their own countrymen? It is a film focused on morality as well as a coming of age story.
Chosen by the Dutch Critics as the best Dutch film of 2008, it won the PZC Audience Award and shortlisted for an Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Winter in Wartime not only makes for a compelling war time drama but a gripping examination of fearlessness, honourable ambiguity and an emotionally harrowing coming of age film.