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Into the White

2012 | 101 min | R | 2.39:1

Into the White


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Theatrical release date

 12 April, 2013
 28 September, 2012

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Screenshots from Into the White Blu-ray

Into the White Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, March 8, 2013

The intimacy of “Into the White” is absorbing, helping to move a familiar story about sworn enemies along. It’s based on a true tale of survival and unexpected companionship at the outset of World War II, and the feature gets plenty of mileage out of tense confrontations in the freezing cold, with a sharp collection of actors chosen to embody national pride as it’s tested in a most unforgiving environment. Dramatically rewarding and geographically vivid, “Into the White” generates a satisfactory amount of suspense and personality to achieve its limited goals, successfully spinning routine with welcome attention to character.

In 1940, after a dogfight with a British plane, a Nazi bomber piloted by Schopis (Florian Lukas) crash lands in Norway, leaving the leader and subordinates Schwartz (David Kross) and Strunk (Stig Henrik Hoff) alone in the middle of nowhere, with snowstorms and bitter cold forcing them to seek shelter. Coming across an abandoned cabin, the Nazis attempt to create a viable shelter for themselves without much in the way of food and supplies. Marching into view is a pair of British pilots, Davenport (Lachlan Nieboer) and Smith (Rupert Grint), who seek comfort inside the dwelling, only to find the Germans proclaiming them prisoners of war, keeping the men detained in a corner as they figure out how to return home. As time passes, the group gets to know one another, finding commonalities that reach beyond military duty, working together to keep the cabin warm and minds engaged, building previously unthinkable friendships as the days pass and blizzard conditions keep them housebound.

2005’s “Joyeux Noel” explored a similar idea of enemies putting aside their differences in the name of sanity, though “Into the White” isn’t a war picture with a large cast, instead playing far more privately with five men inside a cabin. With only a bag of oatmeal to feed them and firewood accumulated by a gradual stripping of the shelter itself, the story hunkers down with these foes as they learn to trust one another during a particularly sensitive time in European tensions. The prize is iron ore found in the far reaches of Scandinavia, with Germany and Britain fighting for control of the area, yet, inside this claustrophobic space, combat has been paused in the name of survival. However, tempers run hot with this crew, finding the English wielding their wit and spunk excessively to disturb the tightly wound Nazis and their demand for order and submission.

“Into the White” isn’t good about isolating the passage of time, making a deep understanding of sacrifice and tedium difficult to achieve. What we do have is a wounded man in Schwartz, whose elbow has gone gangrene, leaving the makeshift squad with few options as time marches on and sickness sets in. This leads to one of the best scenes in the picture, observing the men decide what to do with Schwartz’s dead arm, coming to the possibility that the only medical solution is a mighty swing of an ax. The situation is not always this severe, as the screenplay is mindful to solidify a personal connection between the soldiers, having them open up about their history and fears, finding allegiance to a military cause pushed aside when trust is established. The performances are uniformly secure and expressive, with Grint unleashing some potent streetwise attitude, while Lukas articulates Schopis’s dwindling sense of duty splendidly, growing to respect his enemy despite his rigorous training and love for the Fatherland.

Some comedy is allowed to break the mood, and hunting adventures, chasing after rabbits and reindeer, move screen activity out of the house, soaking up the majesty of the Norwegian countryside, finding the soldiers coalescing over a shared love of “Over the Rainbow.” Complications do arrive in the final act, testing the union the men have forged, yet director Petter Naess wisely downplays outside intrusion, holding tight on the personalities inside the cabin as prejudices shift. “Into the White” is quite accomplished toying with the balance of power and massaging subtle aggressions, while warmth is handled with equal care. Perhaps it’s not the most original story of male bonding in a charged wartime atmosphere, but it’s a rewarding sit, reminding the viewer of the humanity that remains, even when clothed in an enemy uniform.

Starring: Florian Lukas, Rupert Grint, David Kross, Knut Joner
Director: Petter Næss

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