Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The Dutch-filmed Assault was based on a novel by Harry Mulisch. Presented in a non-linear, flashback/flashword fashion, the film tells the story of a physician whose family was killed by the Nazis during World War II. This came about after the family's neighbors dragged the body of a dead collaborator to their doorstep. The doctor spends his entire adult life trying to find out why his neighbors had betrayed his family. At various isolated moments of political upheaval in Europe, the doctor comes closer and closer to the truth. During a 1984 anti-missile rally, the mystery is solved--and the answer is more complex than anyone back in 1945 had imagined. The hero's "growth" is thus placed in the context of the international turmoil of the four decades following the war. Marc van Uchelen plays the main character as a 12-year-old, while Derek de Lint portrays the adult physician. In a nicely underplayed symbolic touch, Monique van de Ven is cast in a dual role, playing de Lint's wife in the "present" scenes, and an older woman who is murdered by the Nazis because she shelters young van Uchelen in the flashback sequences. The Assault was the "best foreign film" Academy Award winner of 1987.
marital-problems, adolescence, atrocity, coming-of-age, concentration-camp, concert-pianist, dance [art], Holocaust, investigation, MIA (Missing in Action), murder, nightclub, sublimation, war