Inspired by true events, “Into The White” tells the World War II story of two air crews shot down over the frozen wilderness of Norway in 1940. The five soldiers must band together to survive the elements, and find a way back to civilization before they starve and/or freeze to death. The twist is that one of the crews is British and the other is German, and before the elements get them, they may have to kill each other.
Though it’s an original screenplay, much of “Into The White” has the stagebound feel of a play. After the first twenty or so minutes, the majority of the action takes place in a cabin both of the crews happen onto in the middle of a snowstorm. As they are unarmed, the Brits are taken prisoner by the Germans and the cabin is divided into British and German halves, with an actual line drawn down the middle. This segment of setting the ground rules in the cabin plays more like an ABC Family tiff rather than a war story, with a curiously petty tone. But soon the concern with the balance of power is cast aside as the men realize the seriousness of their situation and figure out how to work together.
In the middle third, we get to know the five soldiers in a predictably short-hand way: Horst, the German leader, is a tightly wound stoic type; Schwartz is the true believer with his copy of Mein Kampf signed by the author; Strunk is the quiet hulk who signed up to flee his duty to run the family business. The Brits are Davenport, the upper class officer, and Smith, a working class everyman.
The actors are well cast in their roles. As Horst and Davenport, Florian Lukas and Lachlan Nieboer bring a reserved dignity to their officers, and viewers will recognize Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter series) as the abrasive Smith, whose slowly developing friendship with Strunk (Stig Henrik Hoff) brings the film’s most fulfilling emotional payoff, when the five soldiers’ eventual rescue by the Norwegians leads to tragedy. The performances and the film’s sincerity overcomes some of its storytelling shortcomings, and by the end, I found myself grugdingly liking these soldiers.
But occasionally, the script stumbles, and some of the details of the men’s hard-won camaraderie never really ring true. The remarkable coincidence of the two crews finding the same cabin in the wilderness is quickly forgotten. The two officers bond over (or under, rather) the main beam of the cabin, in a situation brought on by an inexplicably dumb decision. And the incident with the copy of Mein Kampf seems contrived at best.
The amount of time passing in their ordeal is indeterminate, which maybe is purposeful, along with playing down the physical drama of hunger and cold the men face. It seems like that would be a major part of surviving in this situation, but the filmmakers choose to focus on the relationships, and an isolating emphasis on the apart-ness of their situation.
There is a blunt, unadorned style to the dialogue that eventually pays off, but it does take a while to get there. This restrained style leads to the best, and not coincidentally the grittiest, sequence of the film, where a medical emergency leads to a dramatic and difficult decision. Even this event seems oddly pushed aside afterwards, with a literally bloodless aftermath. Much like the film itself, it could do with a burst of graphic energy.
“Into The White” is presented in widescreen, with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The picture quality is solid, with no washout between the vast white of the landscape and the darker human figures. White subtitles are used for the German language portions of the film, and there are options for English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
The audio track is Dolby Digital 5.1. I liked the intimate quality of the dialogue, and the occasional bursts of loud sound are balanced well.
- Original theatrical trailer
- A short, uninformative promotional introduction to the film.
“Into The White” is a sincere but uneven story of friendship and survival in the face of war, starring Rubert Grint and Florian Lukas.