Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

01 June 2015

The Assault

It's a real shame that so many non-English-language films from the 1980s are out of print these days. As I try to watch these older movies that I have heard of or simply seen their names on lists, it can be really difficult to get ahold of some of these movies. (The Dartmouth Library) is helping me as best as it can at the moment.

Last night I saw Fons Rademakers' De Aanslag (The Assault) – it actually ought to have a better title, but it is based on the novel of the same name by Harry Mulisch. I haven't read this book, but I am going to wager that it is much more deeply moving than Rademakers' film.

Still, the film is sturdily made in a kind of 1980s Romantic vein, and it boasts some excellent performances, particularly by Derek de Lint. And it certainly doesn't deserve to be out of print like it is. As far as I can tell, The Assault is only available for purchase in the U.S. in a dubbed-into-English VHS edition that is only available used (current price $45). This is a real shame!

The Assault is about an event in little Anton's life when he is twelve at the end of the second World War. A Nazi policeman is murdered in front of his neighbors' house. They run out quickly in the dark and move the body in front of Anton's house. The Nazis then arrest everyone in the house and burn it down. Anton and the audience understand very little of what is happening, but as Anton gets older he randomly meets people from back then who tell him bits and pieces of what happened so that he can finally piece back together the actions the assassins, his neighbors, and his family took that night.

The style of The Assault is out of fashion right now – it would be remade quite nicely, I expect – but it is a great story. It's a good mystery and an emotionally rich situation.