The Assault Review
In the heartbreaking final months of World War II, Nazi-occupied Holland is the setting for The Assault. Partisans shoot and kill a Dutch collaborator on a peaceful suburban street. The terrified citizens peer out into the night from behind their curtains, convinced that the Nazis will exact horrible revenge.
The movie then tells the story of Anton Steenwijk, the small boy who lived in that house, for the remainder of his life when shadowy figures drag the body to the front of the house next door.
In The Assault, The Nazis take his family away. A mix of administrative blunders and good fortune save Anton from seeming bankruptcy while the others all vanish. After the war, Anton enrolls in college, gets married, and succeeds in his line of work. The effects of that horrible night have followed him throughout his entire life.
But the incident also left its mark on two other families. One of them is the murdered Nazi collaborator’s family. A few years later, Anton meets the collaborator’s kid and finds that he has developed into a disgruntled young right-winger. This young man’s father’s political decision caused him to become an outsider and lowly laborer who was scorned after the war.
Even later, in a 1960s ban bomb rally, Anton runs across the woman who lived next door on that fateful night and hears why her father dragged the body to the front of his home, ensuring that another family would suffer the Nazis’ wrath. He had justifications. They might have been good. Of course, those excuses were unsatisfactory from the viewpoint of a guy who had lost his entire family due to them.
Documentary About Shoah
The excellent documentary “Shoah,” which likewise presented challenging and possibly unanswerable issues regarding who is to blame for the Holocaust, has a fictional postscript called “Assault.” It also has some similarities to the Japanese film “Rashomon,” which explored the same crime from a variety of perspectives and found numerous competing versions of the truth.
On that night, a terrible thing happened. There were deaths. Each of the survivors had to handle their guilt uniquely. Because Anton left unharmed while his entire family was killed, he too felt guilty. The most honest and terrible scene in the movie happens around 20 years after the attack night.
Anton is successfully married, a parent, and content suddenly struck with a severe vastation. Depression would be an exaggeration. He is overcome by a shattering realization that our world is filled with gross injustice that evil exists, and that death is irrevocable.
Film Oscar Nominees
This film is about how he manages to carry on with his life after coming to that realization. Even while The Assault, one of this year’s nominees for the best foreign film Oscar, is a movie that bravely examines big issues, it is not as successful as it may be. The movie spans almost 40 years, which is both a strength and a problem. The film’s strength comes from its depiction of how one tragic night’s resonances have impacted many lives for years afterward.
You may get an idea of the extent of the destruction brought on by the war by multiplying one assault by the millions of others. The movie loses some of its drive and concentration as a result of exploring so many lives over so many years. The canvas is rather big.
The little things are what I’ll remember most, like this one in particular: The young partisan woman who killed his family and caused them to perish comforts, Anton, in a jail cell the night of the assault. Years later, by chance, he has the opportunity to meet her partner and reveal to the old and sickly guy something he had never recognized: that she loved him.