“Into the White” is a Norwegian movie loosely based on a World War II tale. It was released under the title “Cross of Honour” in the United Kingdom. Why the name was changed to something unassociated with the movie is beyond me. It was directed by Petter Naess. Yes, that Peter Naess. We are about to find out what the phrase “inspired by a true story” means when applied to a war movie.
In April, 1940 the Germans and British were fighting over Norway and its natural resources. The film claims they both wanted to conquer Norway. The British might find the word “conquer” a bit harsh. A British fighter shoots down a German bomber, but goes down itself in the encounter. Both crews end up at the same hunter’s hut. The Germans arrive first, but allow the British in despite the fact that the Germans are armed and the Brits aren’t (and just shot them down). Instead of being grateful for that not killing us thing, the British insist on being treated equally and even bitch when the Germans take their lighter to start a fire. They plan to provoke their hosts and stress them out. This task is taken up by future soccer hooligan Smith (Rupert Gint – Weasley of Harry Potter fame!). He manages to get a pistol and now they have the upper hand.
Since they are stuck in a cabin in wintertime, we get some exposition (but no explosion because this is not a Hollywood film). The foes debate which is worse – Nazi Germany or the British Empire? When German Captain Schopis (Florien Lukas) argues that England wants Norway for its raw materials, British Captain Davenport (Lachlan Nieboer) agrees! I think Norwegian cinema has a grudge against WWII England. Along with the exposition, we also get the requisite bonding. The schnapps helps. You know they are accepting each other because they share cigarettes. Part of the bonding experience involves Smith and Strunk (Stig Hoff) going off hunting. Only one comes back when they meet a Norwegian patrol searching for the Germans. War over for the Germans. Movie over for us.
I am always skeptical when a movie claims to be “inspired by a true story”. I spend the movie wondering what moments of bull shit might actually be true. Sometimes I am stunned when my research proves the most ridiculous scenes are verifiable. Most of the time my cynicism is warranted. This movie is somewhere in the middle. There really was a German bomber that got shot down and its hunter also crashed. The movie changes the names of the British, but not the Germans. Davenport was actually Capt. R.T. Partridge and Smith was Lt. R.S. Bostock. The British arrived at the cabin first and when the Germans came armed, a truce was agreed to. The British lied and convinced the Germans that they were the crew of a bomber. The Brits moved on to a nearby abandoned hotel and were joined there the next day by the Germans. Davenport (not Smith) and Strunk went out scouting and ran into a Norwegian ski patrol. Because they feared Strunk was going to kill Davenport, they shot him. They then moved on to the hotel where Schopis and Auchtor were taken captive. The movie post script is accurate. It is obvious that all of the filling in between the lines (like the amputation of Auchtor’s arm) were made up.
If the “true story” had not existed, someone would have invented it anyway. Two planes crash near each other and the crews have to live and let live. Cinema 101. “Into the White” fumbles the chance to enhance the basic story with entertaining elements. The characters are all stereotypes. One of the Germans is “bad” (Auchtor), but strangely not the officer. We know he’s bad because he carries a copy of “Mein Kampf”. Smith is a caricature. The two leaders are too noble. The dialogue is bland and the plot is predictable. You can see the bonding coming from a mile away. There is no real suspense. You never get the feeling that the two groups will open fire on each other.
If your favorite color is white, this is the movie for you. Otherwise, it’s not anything special. It certainly is not going to make my 100 Best War Movies list.
GRADE = C