In the wintry Dutch countryside of 1945, the wreckage of a crashed English plane is an irresistible lure to two thirteen-year-old boys from the nearby village. It‘s a game of adventure when the occupying German soldiers chase MICHIEL (Martijn Lakemeier) and his best friend THEO (Jessie van Driel) away from the wreck, but the excitement turns scary when Michiel is caught and brought before the local Nazi commander. Michiel‘s father, JOHAN VAN BEUSEKOM (Raymond Thiry) is the town mayor, who tries to maintain neutral relations with the Nazis in hopes of protecting his village and townspeople. Michiel gets off with a warning, but he defiantly considers his cautious father a coward for appeasing the Nazis. In contrast, Johan‘s brother BEN (Yorick van Wageningen), who arrives for a visit with a mysterious suitcase full of ration cards and a wireless radio, is a dashing man of action and secret resistance hero to his doting nephew Michiel. Tension is high in the village: the war is turning badly for the Germans, they‘ve increased their pressure on the town, and nobody knows who‘s an informer, who‘s a resistor, and who will be arrested next. Michiel hears his father and uncle arguing and resolves to aid the resistance himself.
Because Michiel avoided naming Theo to the Nazis, he gains the trust of Theo‘s older brother DIRK (Mees Peijnenburg), who entrusts Michiel with a letter to be delivered in case Dirk fails to come back from his resistance mission to blow up an armaments depot. Dirk is arrested, and when Theo goes to deliver the letter to the local blacksmith, he makes a careless slip of the tongue which may—or may not—be the cause of the blacksmith‘s death, shot by the Germans while fleeing. Uncle Ben suspects that Michiel knew something of Dirk‘s arrest and the blacksmith‘s shooting, and he gruffly warns his nephew to stay out of grown-up business and stick to child‘s play.
Nevertheless, Michiel sets off to follow the instructions that the blacksmith should have been given, following the directions in Dirk‘s letter to an old hunting cabin in the nearby deep woods. He finds JACK (Jamie Campbell Bower), the wounded young pilot who parachuted out of the crashed British plane, hidden in an underground shelter. Jack is desperate—his resistance helpers are dead or arrested, he‘s running out of food, and his wounded leg is infected. He must get to the nearest large town across the river to rendezvous with people who can help him get back to England. Hardly more than a boy himself, he has no choice but to entrust his life to the thirteen-year old.
Michiel brings Jack pilfered food and the company of his halting English, and they hatch a plan to smuggle Jack across the river on a ferry. But Jack‘s infection turns life-threatening, and Michiel is forced to confide in his older sister ERICA (Melody Klaver), a nurse, and bring her to look after Jack‘s wound. Erica is able to clean up the wound and bring down Jack‘s fever, but she takes more of an interest in the case than Michiel would like: Erica and Jack are clearly attracted to each other, and Erica recklessly visits Jack‘s hiding place on her own.
Michiel is caught up in dangers and decisions far beyond his years, without knowing who he can turn to: he loves his parents, but worries that his father is too chummy with the Nazis; he‘d like to confide in Uncle Ben, but fears his anger; he relies on his sister, but resents her burgeoning romance with Jack. And he must confront the reality that his own actions could have terrible repercussions on his family and others. When the Nazis arrest Johan, to make an example and scapegoat of the town‘s mayor for the shooting of a German patrolman, Michiel must decide whether to betray Jack to save his father or trust in Uncle Ben‘s ability to pull strings to have Johan set free.
By the time the war is won only months later, Michiel has come of age through terrible ordeals, but the possibility of postwar life starting anew leaves his story on a hopeful note.
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