MRR Review: "Into the White"

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High above the harsh Norwegian wilderness, English and German pilots shoot each other to the ground after a violent chance encounter. Isolated, they must fight to survive the brutal winter. Directed by Petter Næss.
3.5

MRR Review: "Into the White"

-- Rating: R
Length: 100 min
Release date: Apr. 12, 2013
Directed by: Petter Næss
Genre: Action/Drama/History

"Into the White" is a 2013 film that follows three German pilots who crash their airplane in the Norwegian wilderness in the midst of World War II. The three pilots, Lieutenant Horst Schopis, Josef Schwartz, and Wolfgang Strunk, crash after downing a British plane and are forced to survive in the freezing cold. They become stranded in an abandoned cabin deep in the woods when an intense snow storm hits. The British crew they shot down wind up taking shelter in the same cabin and becoming prisoners of the three German men. The story that ensues is one of compromise out of necessity and crossing the lines between enemy warfare and friendship.

Florian Lukas delivers a winning performance as Lieutenant Schopis, whose strong leadership and courage hold the band of pilots together. His dedication to his men and his unwillingness to appear vulnerable will surely invite sympathy from the viewers. He leads them through the snowy wilderness to shelter, and although he is at first reluctant to accept the British crew into the cabin, he soon recognizes their shared humanity. "Into the White" offers an unique look into an aspect of World War II that is not often covered in film. Because the film opens from the perspective of German pilots, viewers may instantly form a liking with the three men that they might not have under other circumstances. The German pilots are portrayed as flawed and relatable human beings who have conflicting feelings about their country's role in the war and in humanity overall.

"Into the White" is an intimate film that puts together two unlikely forces and pits them against nature, perhaps man's greatest opponent. British Captain Charles Davenport and his gunner, Robert Smith, are relatable in their own right. Smith provides much-needed comic relief, while Davenport parallels the leadership of Schopis. Davenport and Schopis forge a bond during their time in the cabin, and each man comes to recognize and acknowledge the leadership of the other.

Leadership is a main theme throughout the movie as Davenport and Schopis struggle to keep the morale of their men high despite constant pressure and the threat of death. The men must overlook their sizable differences to overcome a force beyond their control. When they are all trapped together, equally vulnerable to the elements, it becomes clear that they must fight for something different from what they were fighting for on the battlefield. They must find reliable sources of food, water, and warmth and then compromise on the best ways to divide the resources. The weapons each carries are rendered useless against the merciless strength of the storm and the very real threat of starvation.

The stay in the cabin becomes an opportunity for the men to fight their own internal battles. The vastly different ages within the group force smaller alliances between the different members and make them all consider the other side in a new way. The friendships they forge last long after the war is over, and each man comes away with a unique view that would change each one of them and all those whose lives they touch forever.

While the film starts out slow with the German pilots' entrapment in the cabin, once the British pilots come in, the pace picks up quickly. There are several intense scenes in which the men fight out the principles that led their two nations into war, but soon they realize that things are not as simple as they seem. The men on both sides are relatable as fathers, sons, and brothers. Each of them is flawed in his own right, and the film delves deeply into the commonality that all people share, regardless of where they were born or raised.

Another major theme of the film is the vulnerability that hides behind the mask of strength in leadership, particularly within the military. Lieutenant Schopis and Captain Davenport must face the threat of the wild in a way that their men can't understand. Each feels a sense of responsibility that is moving and wholly relatable. By looking to each other as an unlikely source of encouragement, they find a way to rally their men together and survive not only one another but the elements as well.

"Into the White" has its share of intense, heart wrenching moments, but the overall tone of the film is one of hope and renewal. The power of friendship triumphs over the coldest winter and warms even the coldest heart in this human drama that melts the lines of nationality and age.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5