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The Netherlands' WWII Occupation to Be Examined in a Film Series

September 26, 2002|KEVIN THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Heroes, Traitors and Collaborators: The Netherlands Under Occupation" will open tonight at 7:45 p.m. at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with a 25th anniversary screening of Paul Verhoeven's Oscar-winning "Soldier of Orange," which will be introduced by Verhoeven.

This series of six features, plus lectures, continues through the weekend at the James Bridges Theater in UCLA's Melnitz Hall.

Before Verhoeven became a big-budget Hollywood director, he pioneered a flowering of the Dutch cinema in the 1970s, which in turn encouraged other filmmakers to confront Holland's wartime experience under Nazi rule. Based on an autobiographical novel by Erik Hazelhoff, "Soldier of Orange" follows six privileged university students from the first German bombings, through capitulation, to liberation in May 1945. The key figures are Rutger Hauer's Erik, a reluctant but shrewd hero, and his best friend, the handsome, devil-may-care Guus (Jeroen Krabbe).

"Soldier of Orange" is a splendid period re-creation so typical of the Dutch, and Verhoeven here is a filmmaker of immense vitality, following the young men as some join the Resistance and one joins the Germans.

Recklessness comes to characterize Renee Soutendijk's beautiful and fiery-tressed Johanna (Hannie) Schaft, the real-life heroine of Ben Verbong's 1981 "The Girl With the Red Hair," which screens Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Just as Hannie is up for a doctorate, she drops out of school to become a Resistance assassin. Teamed with a tough-minded, experienced man (Peter Tuinman), the headstrong Hannie becomes so obsessive in her mission that she endangers others as well as herself. On a wintry night in January 1945, in the city of Haarlem--also the setting for Verbong's film--a family of four sits around the dining room table at the beginning of Fons Rademaker's 1986 "The Assault," which screens Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The sound of gunshots pierces the evening's silence, and the family's younger son sees some neighbors dragging the body of a much-hated Nazi collaborator into the front yard. Moments later, this 12-year-old boy Anton (Marc Van Uchelen) will be torn from his parents and older brother, never to see them again, saved only by his youth.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday September 28, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 4 inches; 164 words Type of Material: Correction
German films--The film series "Beyond the Mainstream: A Tribute to Director Romuald Karmakar" opens Tuesday with the film "Manila," at 7:30 p.m. at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The day was listed incorrectly in the Screening Room column in Thursday's Calendar Weekend.

From this terrifying beginning, the film becomes a somber, complex saga of that boy's struggle to repress this traumatic event, right up to adulthood in the near-present.

"The Assault" is also a mystery, a probe of the convoluted workings of the human psyche, and at last a quest for the precise reason why it happened that those neighbors hauled that body in front of the boy's It is not until 1952 that Anton (now played by Derek de Lint), returns to Haarlem for a friend's graduation ceremony. From here on, "The Assault" leapfrogs over the years until 1983, stopping along the way for vivid and painful meetings with numerous people who inadvertently offer pieces of the puzzle.

It's not until "The Assault's" ironic concluding sequence that it becomes fully clear that the use of newsreels has not been merely for punctuation. At that moment, we realize that Anton has never involved himself in the events of his time. It's only when he does that he stumbles upon the truth of the past, which will set him free. (310) 794-4432.

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The American Cinematheque is presenting "Beyond the Mainstream: A Tribute to Director Romuald Karmakar in Person" through Oct. 9 at the Goethe Institut. Although Film Comment magazine recently hailed Karmakar as one of the most fascinating figures in current European cinema, he has heretofore remained little-known in the U.S.

Opening the series tonight at 7:30 is the local premiere of the highly entertaining "Manila" (1999), which focuses on 13 major characters, Germans, mainly tourists, stranded at the Manila International Airport. This situation sounds the stuff of conventional melodrama, and it is that, but what's different is how deeply Karmakar and his co-writer Bodo Kirchhoff probe these characters..

Among the key figures are two cousins, Rudi (Jurgen Vogel), haunted by his experiences serving in the German armed forces in Somalia, who is on his way home with his older cousin Herbert (Manfred Zapatka), who has worked 20 years in Saudi Arabia and the Philippines. Both men begin to pour out their stories to an attractive German-speaking American (Elizabeth McGovern).

Walter (Michael Degen) and Knut (Peter Ruhring), who is a retired teacher from eastern Germany, are older men and hit it off. Walter threw over his Mercedes dealership and family back in Germany to start a new life running a popular brothel in the Philippines with his pretty young wife (Chin Chin Gutierrez). As a jovial extrovert, Walter gradually loosens up the uptight Knut, who has a heart condition and an overly solicitous wife, also a retired teacher (Margit Carstensen, an R.W. Fassbinder favorite). "Manila's" climax is as satisfying as it is unexpected.

In its annual New Films From Germany series, the Cinematheque screened in 1996 and 1997 "The Deathmaker," which returns Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Karmakar's 1995 debut film is a grueling, higdramatization of the 1924 interrogation of the accused serial killer Ernst Schultze (Gotz George), the Jeffrey Dahmer of his day. (323) 466-FILM.

Note: On Tuesday, the 21st Academy/Contemporary Documentaries series begins at 7:30 p.m. at the James Bridges Theater in UCLA's Melnitz Hall with Chuck Braverman's 30-minute "Rocky and Rolanda," about two teenagers, one abandoned in Hollywood, the other born to a drug-addicted mother. It will be followed by Edet Belzberg's "Children Underground," about homeless children living in a Bucharest subway station. (310) 206-FILM.

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