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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Resistance Banker is a 2018 Dutch drama based on the true story of the banker who during World War II found a way to fund the Dutch Resistance to the Nazis. The movie has English subtitles. War violence throughout. The lead character enters a home to find two people dead of suicide by poisoning and one by hanging. Characters executed by firing squad, tortured (beaten, fingernails pulled, waterboarded, bloodied), fall to their deaths. Gun battles between Resistance members and Nazis -- characters shot and killed, injured, blood. A young boy climbs to the top of a high tree, loses his footing, and falls to the ground and breaks his arm. Cigarette and pipe smoking. Drinking in a cabaret -- Nazi soldiers act drunk.
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What's the story?
In THE RESISTANCE BANKER, Walraven Van Hall (Barry Astma) is a Dutch banker in Nazi-occupied Holland. After he discovers one of his employees has committed suicide with his wife and child, he's approached by a member of the Dutch Resistance. Van Hall is asked if he'll use his extensive financial contacts to fund the resistance movement at all levels. Wally agrees, and with the help of his brother Gijs (Jacob Derwig), they devise a scheme to create a system of loans that provide much-needed funds to the leaders exiled in Britain, guerilla fighters, union organizers, and the underground press. While successful, Wally and Gijs need to come up with something bigger. Their next audacious plan involves bank fraud and the counterfeiting of bonds worth tens of millions of guilders from the Dutch Bank -- essentially from right in front of the prying eyes of the Nazis and their Dutch enablers. As the resistance network continues to grow and the SS moves ever closer to discovering that Wally and Gijs are the financiers to the resistance, Wally goes into hiding, leaving his wife and child behind, hoping, in the early months of 1945, that the Allies will liberate Holland before he's discovered.
Is it any good?
There are lots of movies and shows about World War II, but The Resistance Banker manages to stand out from the crowd. Based on a true story, the actions of Walraven and Gijs Van Hall are a testament to how it was more than statesmen, generals, and infantry who brought down the Third Reich, and how it was even more than those who fought in the resistance with guns and bombs. It also required seemingly ordinary people hiding in plain sight, and even bankers armed with nothing but the knack for creative bookkeeping. These regular people took enormous risks. The Resistance Banker shows that these lesser-known stories can be just as exciting, engaging, and worthwhile as the more traditional war adventures.
It's not to say that accounting is the stuff of great cinema. The intricacies in the systems and schemes the Van Halls put into place are likely to go over the heads of those who aren't CPAs. But how it worked and what it accomplished is simple enough to grasp. And since the story isn't as well known, and there's a certain irony in bankers (especially from the vantage point of a post-2008 financial crash world) showing extraordinary bravery, integrity, and selflessness, you don't know exactly how it's going to end, even if you do, in the big picture, know how it's going to end.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about depictions of World War II in movies and television shows. Why do you think World War II continues to be a popular subject in media?
How does this movie present a unique and overlooked part of World War II?
Documentaries and programs about Nazis, serial killers, and assassinations abound. Why? Do you think the creators want their viewers to get a better understanding of the evils of the past so they don't repeat these tragedies and horrors, or are these programs more likely to get higher ratings than programs on, for instance, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, or Harriet Tubman?
- On DVD or streaming: September 18, 2018
- Cast: Barry Atsma, Jacob Derwig, Fockeline Ouwerkerk
- Director: Joram Lürsen
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, History
- Character strengths: Courage, Integrity
- Run time: 123 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 19, 2019
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