Movie based on actual events can be tricky beasts to wrangle, but The Forgotten Battle (2020) is a solid effort, perhaps because it chronicles a more obscure event of World War II and blends its restricting historical elements with well-clocked fictional stories. Set in the autumn of 1944 as the Allied invasion of Europe is in progress, the film’s subject is the Battle of the Scheldt, a Canadian operation to liberate German-controlled territory in the Low Countries. Tuen Visser (Susan Radder) is the daughter of a doctor who has been collaborating with the Nazis, and whose brother has been secretly working with the Dutch Resistance. Marinus van Staveren (Gijs Blom) is a regretful Dutch-recruited Nazi soldier, mortified to be reassigned from the Eastern Front to his home country now that the tide has turned against Germany. And Will Sinclair (Jamie Flatters) is a British glider pilot attached to Operation Market Garden, the daring Allied operation to accelerate Hitler’s defeat. When Sinclair’s damaged glider is forced to ditch in the Scheldt, he finds himself making a dangerous journey through occupied territory in an attempt to rejoin Allied forces. Simultaneously, Tuen is roped into a Dutch Resistance operation to communicate vital tactical intelligence to the Canadians attempting to liberate her region, while van Staveren’s shifting sympathy to his countrymen lands him back in a front-line infantry role. These three individual journeys are destined to collide in a historic, important battle destined to play an important role in the fall of the Third Reich.
The Forgotten Battle is an impressive war film mixing Dutch, English, and German actors in a multifaceted, dovetailing story of a battle that hasn’t been broadly explored, which makes its details and episodes more unexpected and illuminating than other films of its type. Blom, Flatters, and especially Radder are sympathetic protagonists, each adeptly painting an accessible picture of their corner of the conflict (occupier, liberator, and civilian), and there is convincing support from the rest of the cast, including Jan Bijvoet, Tom Felton, and Marthe Schneider. An engaging, well made historical drama.