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SOLDAAT VAN ORANJE
1977

poster

Film

Director:

Paul Verhoeven

Language:
Dutch

Running Time: 152'

Main Cast :
Rutger Hauer - Erik Lanshof
Jeroen Krabbé - Guus
Edward Fox - Colonel Rafelli
Lex van Delden - Nico
Derek de Lint - Alex
Susan Penhaligon - Susan
Eddy Habbema - Robby
Belinda Meuldijk - Esther
Peter Faber - Will
Rijk de Gooyer - Ss-er Breitner

Screenplay:
Gerard Soeteman and Kees Holierhoek from the book by Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema

Awards and Nominations:
1979 - Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award As Best Foreign           Language Film
1980 - Golden Globe Award Nomination as Best Foreign Film
1999 - Dutch Rembrandt Award as Second Best Film of the Century

Plot:
The film traces the story of Queen Wilhelmina's aide-de-camp, Erik Lanshof, from his student days in Leiden before the war to the emotional return to Holland at his monarch's side.
Throughout the trials of this clumsy but engaging, and finally heroic, individual, the film describes a comprehensive picture of the Dutch at war - the air raids, the Jew-baiting, the viciousness of informers, the exploits of the Resistance -and it does so with a clever mixture of wit and cynism.
It dares to show the anti-Jewish feelings that existed in Holland, or the quasi-Fascist initiation cerimonies among the university students in 1938, or the Dutch crowds pressing flowers into the hands of Nazi soldiers as they marched through the streets (something based directly on newsreel footage).
One cannot forget, for example, an execution in the dunes - the condemned man gazes round the windswept skyline while, faint in the background, there is the cry of a single bird...

Notes:
Rutger went to Hawaii to meet the real “Soldier of Orange”, Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema.
“Soldaat van Oranje” has been the most expensive Dutch film of all times.
“Soldaat van Oranje” world premiere took place in Amsterdam (Tuschinski Theater) on September 22, 1977 and also the Dutch Royal Family attended it.
This film brought Rutger to the attention of the international film audiences and a lot of praises were addressed to his stunning performance. The “Los Angeles Times” wrote, 'Rutger Hauer is a genuine star with a rugged personality and a magnetic figure'. And “Newsweek”, 'The revelation of this film is the strikingly handsome Rutger Hauer as Erik. Blond, blue-eyed, he cuts a classic romantic profile, but no mannequin could perform with such effortless authority and self-effacing wit. When an unknown actor can make his entrance with a noodle soup pouring down his shaved head and can still look good, then you know you are in front of a real star'.

Rutger's Notes:
Soldier of Orange was a film that meant one of the bigger changes. First of all because of its story. The art of war has always been a mystery to me. It is beyond my understanding. In my world soldier means something mental rather than running around to kill someone because the higher ranking guy just told you so. When I was in the Army for a few months I was the fittest dog but it all seemed just a videogame. When I got serious about it I had to give up. I'm glad my country doesn't need me that way. And pretty happy that I can just pretend as history keeps repeating this deadly game.

So I met Erik Hazelhoff and he became my lovely guide in the miserable and ridiculous adventure of war and resistance. At the time (1976) the film started to come into play I had done between seven and ten films as a filmactor and had been enormously succesful with most of them. Most of them in my own county. My own language. Some in Germany since I was fluent in German as well. And I had been frolicking through life with a passion. I considered my passes at the filmroles basicallly as a sport and game. Coming down to the idea: "Can I make the viewer believe these characters & stories ring real. As i got my first real start in 1969 I had just arrived in succeeding to get this semi-realism down. I'm just saying semi-realism because there is only one reality. Then and now. And it is not a movie. I had not worked for almost a year and did need work. I had done a few very bad movies and had made up my mind to do better.

Soldier of Orange was a screenplay Ilooked at with different eyes. I took much time to decide on it. Paul Verhoeven who I had worked with was a true support. And Erik was there to talk to. My main concern was that it not be a WARMOVIE with people's noble intentions all over the place. And the dark pain and terrible suffering .I wanted it to be as much about life than it was about everything else .Including some humour. What an interesting document it would become.

We went to work. Just having a good time. Not having a clue what it would mean for most of us ten years down the line. It was a movie in Dutch. In that period "our" films would have a very small chance ever being seen across any border. TURKISH DELIGHT, my first, could only be the one amazing exception. Because it played across Europe for over a year. Competing with LOVE STORY, CABARET, LAST TANGO IN PARIS....

As I was saying.. Because of the way it went and the life 'SOLDIER OF ORANGE' has had. The fact VHS videotape became a mainstream product. And TV networks started engulfing and absorbing worldwide airwaves with space that needed films. Because of America's interest. It elevated this small and local story into a level and audience volume which was unique. It launched our lives and careers. Paul Verhoeven, Jan de Bont, Derek de Lint, Jeroen Krabbe and myself were briefly lit by the limelight and all moved on from there. And certainly not in the last place Erik Hazelhoff's life. Because of this there is an incredible bond I feel. But let me remember. It is etched on my soul. I re-read a diary I wrote when working on this film. I approached the book, screenplay and role with more thought and distance than any work before. I felt it was not as close to home. I felt it needed more acting skill. It certainly seemed it needed a lot more work to make it mine as well as the real owner and reluctant hero. That same reluctance and his sharp wit was where I felt I should go. My honesty must have been cruel at a certain point but it was all I had.

It was odd how I got the role. I had heard that Paul V. was casting and felt I should get at least a call. I did not. So I called him and asked him if he was at all considering me. He said he wasn't. I asked him why and he said he didn't think I could do this. You have to understand that I deeply appreciated this. One of the courageous things Paul V. did. He would look and search the world for new talent. I applaud him for that. I have seen him do this again and again. So I suggested he'd give me a screentest when he would have difficulty finding the right man. That call came a month later. et's try, he said. I'm pretty sure that what got him when I did my screentest was that I had learned a few things but mostly it was the abillity to make things seem "real". So among those we were trying to decide there was a bit of serious doubt. I'm sure Erik Hazelhoff himself was having some difficulty seeing me portray him. And I'm sure I was peculiar, whatever that means, and I may very well still be. Really, I don't feel I have changed that much. But that's how I got play the part that would change my life. Guided by Paul who I trusted and resepected deeply. Did I know. Did not. But I went for it like a rock.

There are moments that are really dear in that film. The Dutch Queen when she comes back from London living in exile after 5 years and stepping off the Dakota 3. Rubbing the sole of her shoe on the concrete soil of the landing strip. Her old and new soil. This came from history. Told through one man who watched it happen and who lived to tell this tale. Erik Hazelhoof. Such great observations. Doing a film based on someone's life who is right there and shoot some of the scenes in the same locations as he was in when living his life is different. Of course there is 'Deja-Vu'. At the same time there is a 'Flash-Forward' feeling. Now 27 years later it seems to triple. Mindboggling. Overwhelming. Yet I am right on top of it. Another timewarp happens while I write this. A concert of the Rolling Stones in progress with the songs that made me dance and dance and dance the mornings away. Barefoot on sandy barfloors. When I was 17. Real rocking roll then and now.

From Rutger's 1976 diaries:

October 13 - Wednesday

Nightshooting is not easy. The actual wargames for SoO are played out at night . I can feel the salt and still smell the northsea and all my muscles feel like sand. Still exhausted from walking through the heavy surf carrying Jeroen Krabbé yesterday. He was sitting on my shoulders. I had to carry him from the small UK craft at sea to the shore. The surf was a bit wild. The supposedly water tight suit he was wearing over his tuxedo would fill up and the weight and current would make this extremely heavy. We did quite a few takes. Collapsed in bed after around 7 a.m. this morning and I just woke up at 4:30 p.m. The hotel is close to the beach. Through the walls I hear voices. This wing is in renovation but has been reserved for filmpeople. The hallway is filled with extras waiting to be dressed. They will be the exotic entourage of the mixed German party crowd. Having a good old time. Their job is not as rewarding yet just as important as mine. It looks like a hospital waiting room on the east side of the Berlin wall, where medicine is free as long as one can wait a few days. We will be shooting all nigth again starting at 8 p.m.
Scene: Erik, dressed in a British uniform, has been dropped ashore and sneaks into the Nazi occupied Scheveningen.

October 15 - Friday
Early this evening I discover my mostly kind director and mostly kind producer. From some distance. Their bodylanguage is troubled. Their voices low. Serious.
”We’re five days behind”. That must be Producer. Rob Houwer. Sighs. ”You want me to stop shooting”. That’s Paul Verhoeven, the director. Angry.
What a job they have.
I sympathize. I know it’s too late. SoO is like a baby already. Arms & legs. Face. I know they won’t stop. Or will they?

October 26 - Tuesday
We rehearse a scene where Esther and Erik make out some. I think the scene has a sad undercurrent. We take some time with figuring it out. I tell Paul I wish less sexual flavours. It will become a more quiet scene. Like it. At night I have dinner by myself in a small cafe. The owner keeps
talking to me about an actor's responsibilities. I tell him that the world cannot be saved. He is convinded it can be but only by socialism. I tell him I didn't get that message and that there is no escape. He does, he believes me. He likes to talk. A hell of a discussion. Nightshooting is done.

November 9 - Tuesday
Paul V is furious. Our Producer has sent him another threat letter that we are way to far behind .It is nasty. The bad thing about it is that the letter has been copied and sent out into the crew. In the six week we’ve been shooting they have had three days off. The workhours have been very long. This is desperate, ugly and bad. Discussion flare up among them. As tired as they are. The catering has been pretty bad. And it really looks more horrible today. I wish I could do something. Damn it. I have 5 bucks on me. Next Paul V jumps in and invites who is there to have dinner in a small restaurant. He pays by cheque. 34 tournedos please. Grand. It eases the tension somewhat. I’m pretty sure he won’t ask the producer to reimburse him. Paul is a good man.

November 15 - Monday
Part of the shoot is done and with the dunes and beaches not so far away. I’d like to find a horse and ride along the beach. I ask around to no avail. In the yellow pages I find a place. They have one available. It’s a bit of a drive. In the center of some highrises. I’m introduced to Bambi. He’s funny and fiesty they tell me, and I will like him .He hasn't been outside yet. Do I need spurs or whip. No. I hate spurs. This is pleasure and not torture. Anyway. The beginning of the natural park is only a hundred yards away. About twenty minutes out the suburbs will clear. Then the beach can be mine. I get on my way and notice some nervousness in Bambi when little kids run back and forth in our path, I calm him down. After fifty more yards two geese sit on the side of the road.. Geese seem to really scare him even further. He now comes to a halt and start walking in reverse. I climb down and walk him by these dangerous white and nasty feathered animals and get back on. I know. Spurs or whip would have done the job. I’m talking to Bambi to see if it helps. We go through plastic bags on the wired fence, a zebra cossing freaking him out. A pile of bricks in the middle of the next hundred yards. I keep climbing off and on. Talk in different voices and work up a nice sweat and some frustration. The bricks appear too much so that I have to give into this bad horsy hair day and turn around. Bambi is cool now. Just had different plans for the day.
At night I go to a dinner given by the producer to say good-bye. For now. We will have a break for three/four months before shooting the rest of the film. Because of climate etc. People are happy and friendly.
More people you ever knew you worked with. They all get funny and very drunk. I do too. Don’t even eat. I find our infamous national enquire journalist on my way. I ask him what the hell he’s doing. Just pictures, he says. And that he’s sure I understand. I tell him that I think I do. And I think I do. But I also think it sucks. I go home.

A book showing Rutger and the real “Soldier of Orange” (Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema)

A Dutch magazine cover

International Trailer:


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