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Into the White(2012)
English and German pilots shoot each other down, and later find themselves at the same cabin. In order to survive the tough winter in the Norwegian wilderness they have to stand together. It's the start of a long and unlikely friendship.
For more about Into the White and the Into the White Blu-ray release, see Into the White Blu-ray Review published by Brian Orndorf on July 4, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Florian Lukas, Rupert Grint, David Kross, Knut Joner
Director: Petter Næss
» See full cast & crew
Into the White Blu-ray Review
Quest for fire.
Reviewed by Brian Orndorf, July 4, 2013
The intimacy of "Into the White" is fascinating, helping to move a routine tale about sworn enemies coming together in the face of certain death 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 occurring in the freezing cold, with a sharp, expressive collection of actors chosen to embody national pride as it's tested in a most unforgiving environment during a time of complete intolerance. Dramatically rewarding and geographically vivid, "Into the White" generates a satisfactory amount of suspense and thawing personality to achieve its limited goals, successfully spinning the familiar with welcome attention to character.
In 1940, after a dogfight with a British plane, a Nazi bomber piloted by Schopis (Florian Lukas, "Don 2") crash lands in Norway, leaving the leader and subordinates Schwartz (David Kross, "The Reader") and Strunk (Stig Henrik Hoff, "Max Manus: Man of War") alone in the middle of nowhere, with snowstorms and bitter cold forcing them to seek shelter. Coming across an abandoned cabin in the mountains, 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, "Downton Abbey") and Smith (Rupert Grint, the one and only Ron Weasley from the "Harry Potter" series), who reluctantly seek comfort inside the inhospitable dwelling, only to find the Germans proclaiming them prisoners of war, keeping the men detained in a corner as they figure out a viable plan to return home. As time passes, the group gradually gets to know one another, finding commonalities that reach beyond the severity of military duty, working together to keep the cabin warm and minds engaged, building previously unthinkable friendships as the days fade and blizzard conditions keep them housebound.
2005's "Joyeux Noel" explored a similar idea of enemies putting aside their differences in the name of war zone sanity, though "Into the White" isn't a combat picture with a large cast to help spread focus around, instead playing far more privately with five men inside a cabin. With only a dwindling bag of oatmeal to feed them and firewood accumulated by a gradual stripping of the shelter itself, the story hunkers down with these determined foes as they learn to trust one another during a particularly sensitive time in European tensions. The prize at stake is iron ore found in the far reaches of Scandinavia, with Germany and Britain fighting for control of the area, yet, inside this claustrophobic, hostile space, warfare has been paused in the name of survival. However, tempers run hot with this combustible crew, finding the English wielding their wit and antagonistic mischief excessively to disturb the tightly wound Nazis and their demand for order and submission.
"Into the White" isn't particularly good about isolating the passage of time, making a deep understanding concerning the length of sacrifice and extent of tedium difficult to acquire. What we do have as a clock is a wounded man in Schwartz, whose mangled 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 arm-chopping severe, as the screenplay is mindful to solidify a personal connection between the soldiers, having them open up about their personal history and deep-seated fears, finding steely allegiance to a military cause pushed aside when trust, an unlikely result, 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 most hated enemy despite his rigorous training and unyielding love for the Fatherland.
Into the White Blu-ray, Video Quality
The AVC encoded image (2.35:1 aspect ratio) presentation doesn't offer much in the way of variety, with the feature largely captured in cool tones to match the wintry challenges of the landscape. Contrast is generally capable, with heavy extremes of black and white balanced acceptably. Shadow detail has several moments of murkiness, but it's rare to find the picture completely blocking out information, offering distances and distinction to low-lit areas of the frame. Fine detail is satisfactory, yet "Into the White" isn't overly concerned with screen textures, displaying an inherent flatness that identifies its low-budget origins. Still, facial features deliver all the creases and concern necessary to an HD presentation, while costuming showcases fibrous particulars. Wounds are also compelling in their wet grotesqueness. Skintones are correctly drained of color and frostbitten. The few colors that manage to make it into the frame display confidently, with orange flames and exterior views perhaps the most vivid elements of the viewing experience. Minor banding and pockets of noise are detected.
Into the White Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA sound mix maintains the picture's interest in atmospheric severity with a pronounced sense of cold, submitting surrounds largely utilized to push out blizzard conditions, creating a faint but effective sense of enveloping weather and crunchy atmospherics. Limited scoring efforts also carry some circular presence. Front stage dialogue arrangement is simple but well managed, navigating various accents and languages with a crisp attitude, preserving a clean group dynamic that's easily understood with satisfactory emotional sway. Low-end is useful for heavy snow storms and the feature's rare displays of wartime activity, giving a few bomb blasts their due. Perhaps most enjoyable here is a sense of chilled echo emerging from the cabin, isolated cleanly to capture the freezing, spare location, adding to the tension.
Into the White Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Into the White Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Fragments of comedy are allowed to break the mood, and hunting adventures, chasing after rabbits and reindeer, move screen activity outside 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 improbable union the men have forged, yet director Petter Naess wisely downplays the artificiality of 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.
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Into the White Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Into the White Blu-ray - March 21, 2013
Magnolia Pictures will release on Blu-ray Norwegian director Petter Næss' Into the White a.k.a Cross of Honor (2012), starring Florian Lukas, David Kross, and Stig Henrik Hoff. Street date is June 4th.
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