The Forgotten Battle

Ever heard of World War II’s Battle of the Schelde? No? How about the battle of the Walcheren Causeway? Probably not, right?

Though both of these battles were preemptive components of the much larger Operation Market Garden to come later, the fact that virtually no one – save for the hardest of military buffs – has even heard of these two decisive battles is very much the point of Matthijs van Heijningen’s new film called The Forgotten Battle.

"will be a tough one to shake. It’s that good"


But even more important than these battles themselves were the people – the nameless individuals – who became unlikely components of the Allies’ efforts during Word War II. And that is where van Heijningen places his focus: on the everyday people who were responsible for turning the course of the war. And that’s what makes The Forgotten Battle so thoroughly engrossing. Rather than from a mile high view squinting down on hulking machinery, gunfire, and death, we experience war from the eyes of those who were directly affected by it. Those on both sides who were soldiers and citizens. In other words, war gets personal in The Forgotten Battle as we’re dropped into the middle of hell on Earth.

van Heijningen centers his narrative on three individuals whose story’s play out simultaneously. Similar to the three-fold, time-bending narrative on display in Nolan’s Dunkirk – albeit without the time-bending part, we swap back and forth between the adventures of a young Dutch woman, a British glider pilot, and a Dutch soldier who reluctantly sides with the Germans.

We meet a young Dutch woman, Teuntje (Dutch actress, Susan Radder), the daughter of a local doctor who provides aid to Nazi soldiers. She works for the office of the local town’s mayor and does her best to keep a low profile under her town’s Axis-occupied rule. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when her teenage brother Dirk (Dutch actor, Ronald Kalter) accidentally kills three Nazi soldiers. Teuntje’s subsequent struggle to convince the Germans to show mercy on her brother, eventually reveals Dirk’s clandestine involvement with the underground resistance.

Joining the fight near Antwerp, Holland is Will (Jamie Flatters, TV’s Liar), a British glider pilot hungry for a mission, any mission. He gets his wish when flung into action behind German lines alongside the Canadian forces who have come to free a small Dutch town near the occupied Walcheren Causeway.

And the third focus of the story is Marnius (Dutch actor, Gijs Blom), a young Dutch boy and self-avowed fascist who joins the Nazis before eventually becoming disillusioned by the brutality of his Nazi leaders.The Forgotten Battle

As expected, the lives of these three individuals and their respective points of view eventually converge in a single time and place, but it is their journeys that make for such an enjoyable experience. Even though their choices and journeys differed, they all three ended up in the same place with the same goal: freedom.

Featuring three languages: Dutch, German, and English (with subtitles), the production of The Forgotten Battle played out on a massive scale. In fact, it boasts the second largest budget of any Dutch film, trailing only Black Book, another war film. And the money was well spent as every set piece and every detail is immaculately rendered with grit and grime dotting every scene. As a result, the film’s production quality rivals anything Hollywood puts out. And strap in for one of the most intense battle scenes in quite some time, as we’re along for the ride when a glider being towed behind enemy lines gets ripped to shreds right before our eyes. Brutal stuff. You can let go of the arm rest now. It is only a movie.

Matching the same level of its production quality is the emotional heft the story carries. van Heijningen does a masterful job of capturing the ultra-wide scope of war, even as he drills down to the individual emotions and stories of it three main characters. That’s a very difficult thing to pull off, but his The Forgotten Battle is sure to satisfy history buffs as well as fans of well-crafted personal journeys. There’s plenty of good stuff for everyone – from a fascinating perspective of the underground resistance, to the harrowing plight of glider pilots, to the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by wartime citizens, The Forgotten Battle will be a tough one to shake. It’s that good.

Grab your weapon and fall in. We’re going to war. The Forgotten Battle is now playing on Netflix.

5/5 stars

Film Details

The Forgotten Battle

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
124 mins
: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Paula van der Oest
Gijs Blom; Jamie Flatters; Susan Radder
: War
Three young people in the middle of a war. Their choices differ, their goal is the same: freedom.
Memorable Movie Quote: "We're not giving ourselves up. If we do that, we're as good as dead. I'd rather drown."
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 15, 2021
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: 1944, the Second World War. A British glider pilot, a Dutch boy fighting on the German side and a Dutch female resistance member all end up involved in the Battle of the Schelde. Their choices differ, but their goal is the same: freedom.


The Forgotten Battle