Into the White Blu-ray Review
World War II has been a seemingly never-ending source of material for movies, video games, and other media ever since the war began. What started as propaganda films to inspire the folks back home and to rally the troops soon became true accounts of the war, fictionalized dramas and action films, and then video games that took us further into the action than ever before. To be honest, I’ve grown tired of the genre in general… and World War II films is surely as separate a genre from just “War movies” as Romantic Comedies are separate from straight Comedy or Drama. That being said, after seeing many, many movies and playing most of the games inspired by the last worldwide conflict, I really didn’t think there was any more story to be told. INTO THE WHITE, presented by Norwegian filmmaker Petter Næss, tells a story I haven’t ever heard, and it is worth checking out for a new, authentic tale.
INTO THE WHITE begins with an air battle and title cards explaining that, during the war, the British fought the Germans in the skies over Norway, a country rich in raw materials needed to keep up the war effort. We then find ourselves with a Nazi flight crew getting out of their plane, having crash-landed in the middle of the snow. After a treacherous journey they find a small, uninhabited home in the middle of the wilderness and seek refuge inside. Shortly thereafter they discover they are not alone in this white desert, as a British officer and Airman find their way to the cabin as well. The British are not armed, so the Germans take them into the shelter as prisoners and try to decide what to do next. Soon, the five men realize they must all work together if they’re going to survive; a decision that is difficult but ultimately the only answer that makes sense.
The beauty of INTO THE WHITE is in its simplicity. Hardly a complex story, the movie never tries to be more than it is, a character-driven tale about men on opposite sides of one of the greatest conflicts in history. It’s easy to think of those on the other side of a conflict as evil. It’s easy, but it isn’t honest. The story has a few too many clichés for my taste but it isn’t that they bother me because they don’t work – in fact they work just fine – but because clichés are one of the quickest ways to pull you out of the movie. But even with this minor gripe, INTO THE WHITE excels in building the tension between these two sides while at the same time making us care for both.
One of the hardest things to remember during a conflict like World War II (or even our recent skirmishes in Afghanistan or Iraq) is that most of the people we are fighting are very similar to ourselves. It is far easier to think of them as one-sided, evil-doing monsters, entirely different from us than to recognize that many of them are in the same positions we are, they just happened to be born in a different country. Over time we get to see this realization play out on screen, as the five men start to respect each other and open up about themselves. In these moments, INTO THE WHITE is the most intimate portrayal of soldiers I have ever seen.
None of this would matter without superb acting – and INTO THE WHITE features outstanding performances from the entire (albeit very small) cast. The biggest surprises for me were actors Florian Lukas from Germany as the Nazi Lieutenant, Stig Henrik Hoff as the German Sergeant, and Rupert Grint (who we all remember as the irresistibly cute Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter films). Lukas leads his men with authenticity while dealing with his own doubts, but the truly magic scenes occur as a friendship slowly develops between Hoff’s Strunk and Grint’s Gunner Robert Smith. You can’t help but care for these men as they slowly allow their preconceptions to melt away in the snowy Norwegian landscape. In the end, this is a movie about looking past our earliest impressions and allowing us to learn about each other – thematically relevant, especially in our current world. I highly recommend this film.
INTO THE WHITE BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p, 2.35:1 Widescreen) INTO THE WHITE is well presented though it was not a high budget feature. The HD transfer is as beautiful and blustery as the weather surrounding and trapping these men, and you will feel like you’re right in the middle of it. There are a few issues with some of the blacks becoming an amorphous blob rather than the detailed shadow you’d expert on HD.
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) This film features subtitles as over half the cast is German, but they do spend most of the time speaking in English. INTO THE WHITE is strong enough that should not keep you from watching it though. The sound quality is excellent and you can almost feel the wind whipping around you.
AXS TV – A Look at INTO THE WHITE (02:51) Film critic Robert Wilonsky narrates this extremely brief look at INTO THE WHITE. This disappointing feature is essentially a trailer or commercial for INTO THE WHITE and doesn’t actually give us anything new.
This Blu-ray is completely devoid of special features, disappointing given the relationships and chemistry that clearly developed between the cast. The only other features on the disc are the Theatrical Trailer (02:05) and previews for other Magnolia Home Entertainment releases.