THE RESISTANCE BANKER is set in the troublesome time of World War II and in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. The film follows the real-life accounts of Dutch banker brothers Walraven and Gijs van Hall who decided to fund the Dutch Resistance by defrauding the central bank. This heart-wrenching story is now Netherlands’ entry for the foreign-language Oscar nomination.
Over the years, we have seen many movies about the World Wars of which some are real-life stories, some are loosely based on individuals/events, and some are just pure fiction. Nevertheless, two things are common in most: firstly, the horror Nazis brought to the whole humanity, and secondly – the heroics of individuals, standing tall in their resistance to the Nazi fanatics.
Now streaming on Netflix, the Joram Lürsen-directed “The Resistance Banker” tells us the bravery and patriotism of a few men led by Walraven van Hall (Barry Atsma), a banker who forged documents to take loans from the Dutch Central Bank right under the nose of Nazis and financed the Dutch Resistance.
The film shows how the Dutch brothers Walraven and Gijs van Hall (Jacob Derwig) tricked millions of rupees out of the bank and how they invited risks to their lives, as many sacrificed for the larger cause of freedom.
Watch the movie trailer of “The Resistance Banker”
The story is tight, although the first half of the film is a bit slow. Although the makers tried to build a solid plot, we kind of missed the right amount of tension in the first half. A little more characterization and some amount of effort in bringing focus on the supporting cast could have been great for the overall feel of the film.
Even though we have already watched scenes of Nazi terror in many other films, this film somehow did not focus much on that side. Maybe the director and writers only wanted to focus on the particular episode of the history, thereby being selective in depiction.
From the portrayal of actual history, I kind of found from this movie that it was easy for the rich and powerful to live under the Nazis. Here, the film fails to highlight the troublesome lives of the Dutch when the government was in exile in London.
Nevertheless, the performance of most of the actors in “The Resistance Banker” is decent to keep us engaged even though at times it was the slow pace was distracting. If you hold on with patience, you would certainly enjoy the second half of the movie which is intense and emotional.
I watched it on Netflix with English subtitles, so cannot say how much different it is from the original dialect. Sometimes, in translation, we tend to miss the intent or the overall depiction of any particular situation or the overall feel of the plot.
The film has already garnered huge local box office success and has been nominated for a record of 12 Golden Calf nominations, the national film awards of the Netherlands Film Festival.
“The Resistance Banker” True Story
Modern European or World History students must have been well aware of the Dutch resistance and the resistance banker true story. However, people from around the world would not have even read about any such resistance movement in the Netherlands during WW II.
Walraven van Hall (1906 – 1945) who led the resistance movement was born in a well-off family who initially served in the marine in 1929, but he had to leave because of his eyesight. He later moved to the US but came back as his brother Gijs van Hall helped him find a banking job.
After the occupation of the Netherlands by the Germans, the Nationaal Steunfonds (National Assistance Fund) or NSF was set up in 1943 to assist the families of merchant sailors and later used to assist the resistance groups.
Walraven van Hall with his banking experience was able to provide funds to the underground movement with the help of guarantees by the Dutch government in exile in London.
John Tepper Marlin in his blog writes about the resistance banker true story: “Wally and his brother Gijs van Hall succeeded in raising today’s equivalent of one billion dollars. He did this in part by counterfeiting guilders and substituting the fake money for real bills in the vaults of the Dutch central bank.
He also borrowed money from prominent Dutch people, giving them out-of-date stock certificates or one-guilder notes, keeping track of the numbers so they could be redeemed after the war. When the Queen returned to Holland, she repaid every obligation. All the money was accounted for.”
On 27th January 1945, Walraven van Hall was held by the Germans after a resistance member arrested earlier, revealed their whereabouts and the meeting places. On 12th February 1945, Hall was executed by a firing squad in Haarlem. Soon after the end of the War, he was reburied at the memorial cemetery in Bloemendaal.
The Resistance Banker (2018) – Movie Details
Risking his family and future, a banker in occupied Amsterdam slows the Nazi war machine by creating an underground bank to fund the resistance.
Starring: Barry Atsma, Jacob Derwig, Pierre Bokma
Genres: International Films, Dramas, Biographical Dramas
Director: Joram Lürsen
Language: Dutch, English
Theatrical Release Date: March 8, 2018