The Forgotten Battle (Original title: De slag om de Schelde) is a 2020 war film that was recently released on Netflix, internationally. The film is directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. and stars Gijs Blom, Jamie Flatters, Susan Radder, Tom Felton and Jan Bijvoet among other cast members.
The film has a total run time of just over 2 hours (2 hours and 7 minutes) but feels much, much longer than just that.
Set in the late 1940s, towards the end of the second world war, The Forgotten Battle draws inspiration from the Battle of Zeeland, the story of which largely remains unclear to this date. Among increasing tensions between the Allied forces and Nazi Germany’s hasty retreat from its war-occupied territory, the citizens are thrown into the uncertainty of war. The film follows a British fighter pilot, a Zeeland citizen, and a Nazi soldier, all of whom are thrown together under unusual circumstances. While they come from very different walks of life, their goal remains the same: freedom.
Netflix describes the film as:
November 1944. On the flooded isle of Walcheren, Zeeland, thousands of Allied soldiers are battling the German army. Three young lives become inextricably connected. A Dutch boy fighting for the Germans, an English glider pilot and a girl from Zeeland connected to the resistance against her will, are forced to make crucial choices that impact both their own freedom and the freedom of others.Via the Netflix Official YouTube page
– The Forgotten Battle review does not contain spoilers –
The film starts with an animation of the map of Europe, as it was in the 40s. The short animation tries to explain the political situation at the time and acts as a prelude to the film. It describes how the Nazi forces are compelled to retreat, and how this creates further complications for the Allied forces instead of simplifying their Battle strategies. While this graphic was well-done, and important to set up the context for the rest of the film, this was perhaps the best 3 minutes of the film in itself.
Don’t get me wrong, The Forgotten Battle is great in terms of acting, cinematography techniques, and background score. The problem is, however, that the film doesn’t deliver what it promises through its title. There’s a definitive lack of focus on the Battle of Zeeland itself, with much of the film revolving around the circumstances that led to the battle instead.
While this does not make for an entirely bad film, the title makes you expect something much like ‘Dunkirk’, and the opening shots, with its typical ’40s war film’ filter only affirms that expectation. But the film in and of itself is rather flat because it deals with the story of 3 individuals specifically.
While this misrepresentation doesn’t take away too much from the film, it is also a glaring fault that the film is extremely slow pace-wise. Although the action seems littered around throughout its duration, there’s a certain aspect of the film that makes it, well, put simply, boring. The Forgotten Battle zeroes in on an important story from the long list of horrors related to WWII, that truly is rather forgotten. However, it doesn’t do much justice to the history of it all.
Final Verdict: The Forgotten Battle
How I wish I would have loved this movie. War films have been a particular favourite of mine, and while the history of the second world war is perhaps the worst of humanity, it makes for a great background to complex films. The Forgotten Battle is so much of a missed opportunity, to the point where I fear it may be forgotten too.
The Forgotten Battle is now streaming on Netflix.