The second World War ended 73 years ago, but new stories about courage and resilience continue to come out of that dark chapter of history. Witness the Dutch film, The Resistance Banker – the true story of the remarkable Van Hall brothers.
As smooth-operating figures in the banking world, these young white-collar workers single-handedly managed to siphon off millions of guilders to finance the resistance movement in Nazi-occupied Holland. Operating in the shadows for years, they kept up their formal, “neutral appearance” to the occupying forces. Meanwhile, they used complex financial tricks to bankroll Dutch freedom fighters – without the Germans ever noticing.
Upon its theatrical release in the Netherlands in early 2018, with members of the Dutch royal family present, the film surprised viewers and critics. “A solid movie for the general public, about folks who risked their lives fighting the Germans, as opposed to their own government-in-hiding over in London,” wrote the Filmkrant. “Real heroes are rare, but The Resistance Banker puts them on display.”
Its combination of historical truth, thriller elements, and a high production value made it a natural submission for the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards for the Netherlands.
Holland has a small but well-regarded history of World War II movies. Black Book by director Paul Verhoeven and Süsskind by Rudolf van den Berg are two recent examples. The Resistance Banker fits into this genre squarely, critics have noted, more so since it uncovers new stories and answers new questions about the war.
The Dutch newspaper Volkrant recently wrote about the subject of financing food for Jews in hiding, the livelihood of striking workers, the weaponry of the armed resistance, and the illegal newspapers being printed between 1940 and 1945. “How was all of this paid for?” the newspaper asked. “It’s a question few have asked.”
This movie asks and answers the questions clearly, using “an undeniable, epic tale of heroism”, the Volkskrant noted.