“FOR A LOST SOLDIER”–a tough call


A Tough Call

Amos Lassen

When I first saw “For a Lost Soldier” (Strand Releasing) several years ago I found it shocking so I decided it was time t revisit it now and see where it fits in the canon of gay film. I was still somewhat shocked by it but I will say that it is a beautiful, engrossing and somewhat shocking film. In the movie a twelve year old boy who escapes from the tyranny of Nazism in the Netherlands finds himself be taken care of by s sympathetic family. The boy has gay tendencies but is not aware of them until he meets a Canadian soldier who is gay. They become friends despite a considerable age difference and the soldier uses the boy sexually while the boy, in turn, falls in love with the soldier. When the soldier leaves abruptly, the boy’s heart is broken. The pain of that separation haunts the kid through his adult life and as the movie attempts to show the healing of the pain, we find how sympathetic we are.

The best word to describe this film is “powerful”. Yes, the subject matter is shocking but actually it is more than just shocking. It becomes powerful in the hands of an extremely skilled director, Roeland Kerbosch, and what a shame that this is his only film.

The film is loosely based on the true events of the life of Rudi van Danzi and it presents the sexual and emotional awakening of a young Dutch boy as he engages in a sexual relationship with a soldier during WWII. Their relationship seems to be a loving one and at times it even appears magical. This causes the question to arise—can a relationship based upon two people with such an age difference actually have validity and integrity or they abusive?

The film is sure to cause a “kick in the stomach” reaction by the majority of people but even with this happening the film is remarkably delicate and beautiful. It no way does it exploit or preach. It is beautifully acted and photographed and the sensitive material is handled with grace and compassion. The film avoids the common pitfalls and because it is so carefully handled it avoids reaching a logical conclusion. The film is a memory which echoes the present time and it is obvious that the film does not consider the relationship to be abusive in any way; the viewer has to make that decision himself.

If the movie is viewed with an open mind, those that see it will find that it forces them to define in their own minds what is considered abusive and this is undoubtedly what the film aims to do—the viewer must argue with himself on an issue that is considered largely taboo in the modern world.

The film will , without question, be seen by some who will consider it perverted but in reality I found it, although shocking, to be heartwarming and a sympathetic view of youthful homosexuality, There is no mention of child abuse and the love affair between the thirteen young boy is handled sensitively and with great frankness. In fact, it is the young boy who seems to be pursuing the older man. The film is never vulgar or sensational and the actual sexual coupling of the two males is surrounded by sub-plots and there are many references to sexual tensions.

The question which remains is whether or not a mere child can have consent ional sex with an adult. There is, of course, the idea that since the soldiers were protecting us and making the world safe that they were allowed to do whatever they wanted. The real problem, as it appears to me, is for most adult males, a love affair of a few days cannot be truly considered as “love” yet for a child whose innocence is lost forever, and this is an affair that will never be forgotten.

Nonetheless, the subject is handled beautifully and with great tenderness. This film is highly recommended as one that will make you think and re-examine yourself and after all, is that not what a really good movie does?

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