Derek de Lint en Rutger Hauer in Soldaat van Oranje

Soldier of Orange

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“Soldier of Orange” is often considered the first Dutch epic film due to several factors that emphasize the scale and ambition of the production. Firstly, there’s the extensive storyline, which sets the events of World War II and its impact on the Netherlands in a broad context. The narrative spans several years and follows the life of Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema (played by Rutger Hauer) and his friends as they navigate the complex and often dangerous realities of war.

Rutger Hauer en Derek de Lint in Soldier of OrangeRutger Hauer and Derek de Lint in Soldier of OrangeThe film also stands out for its high production values and impressive visual scenes, including aerial combat, espionage activities, and large-scale action sequences. The use of real locations, historical props, and accurate costumes adds to the film’s epic atmosphere.

“Soldier of Orange,” directed by Paul Verhoeven, tells the true story of student Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema during World War II. The film follows Erik and his friends as their lives change drastically due to the German occupation of the Netherlands. While some join the resistance, others choose collaboration or try to remain neutral. Erik evolves into a heroic spy, participates in secret missions, and eventually becomes the personal adjutant to Queen Wilhelmina in exile. The story highlights the moral dilemmas and choices people face during war, along with the sometimes high cost of heroism and loyalty.

Rutger Hauer en Jeroen Krabbé in Soldier of Orange

In the context of Dutch films, especially from that time, “Soldier of Orange” is impressive. However, when compared to American war films, it falls a bit short. Rather than being a compelling and serious war thriller, it resembles more of a boyhood adventure. Despite all the explosions and gunfights, Erik’s story feels somewhat thin. He does some odd jobs for the resistance, sails to England, participates in an undercover operation, and becomes a fighter pilot—which leads to only one brief action scene. The epic feel you might expect is largely absent.

Yet, “Soldier of Orange” is an entertaining war film and is rightfully regarded as a milestone in Dutch cinema. The film offers a broad depiction of the Dutch resistance during World War II and includes some impressive action scenes and many authentic historical details.

Rutger Hauer, Derek de Lint, Dolf de Vries en Jeroen Krabbé in Soldier of Orange

Paul Verhoeven’s direction ensures a fine balance between tension, humor, and drama. The cinematography captures the atmosphere of the period perfectly, with beautiful shots of both Dutch landscapes and more intense war settings. All this makes “Soldier of Orange” a lasting classic in Dutch film history.

In my opinion, the film could have had more impact. It might have been better to focus on a specific operation rather than telling the entire war story of Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema. Despite this possible improvement, “Soldier of Orange” continues to attract a wide audience—the fact that the musical adaptation has been running for 14 years is no coincidence. This demonstrates that the core of the story, with themes of courage and resistance, has enduring appeal.

Rutger Hauer, Susan Penhaligon en Jeroen Krabbé in Soldaat van Oranje

Soldier of Orange poster
Soldier of Orange poster
Soldier of Orange
  • Year:
  • Director:
    • Paul Verhoeven
  • Cast:
    • Rutger Hauer
    • Jeroen Krabbé
    • Derek de Lint
  • Genres:
    Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • Running time:


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