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Film / The Resistance Banker

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"The biggest act of resistance that got covered up"

The Resistance Banker (Dutch: Bankier van het verzet) is a Dutch historical film from 2018.

It focuses on brothers Walraven van Hall (Barry Atsma) and Gijs van Hall (Jacob Derwig), who set up a network to finance the Dutch resistance during World War II.

It shows the danger, but also the frustration and anger about freedom being taken away by a foreign occupier.

This film shows examples of:

  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Ritter has to remove treasury bonds from the Central Bank and swop them for forgeries. The clerk in the vault refuses to release the bonds unless Meinoud approves it first, then when he can't get him on the phone tells Ritter come back tomorrow. Ritter goes to leave, then suddenly rounds on the clerk and threatens to report him to Meinoud as a suspected member of the Resistance because he's obstructing the Germans (who have ostensibly requested the bonds). The clerk folds.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Germans speak German. Some of the Dutch people can speak German too.
  • Brick Joke: Literally when Jaap keeps trying to tell a joke ("What is the similarity between Rost van Tonnigan and the Dutch flag?") but gets interrupted each time. When they've been imprisoned, Walraven asks for the punchline. "They'll both hang after the Liberation."
  • Briefcase Full of Money
    • La Résistance get wind of the fact that the German occupiers are planning to stop the circulation of large denomination bills, ostensibly to crack down on the Black Market. So they have to use their banking contacts to exchange all the money in their war chest for small bills before the deadline. Cue a montage of couriers exchanging satchels of money.
    • During The Caper to steal treasury bonds from the Dutch Central Bank, there's a Hey, Wait! when Meinoud notices the briefcase Gijs is carrying the bonds in is English, which should be illegal in Nazi-occupied Holland. He passes it off as a family heirloom.
  • Les Collaborateurs
    • Meinoud Rost van Tonningen, whom the Germans have placed in charge of the Dutch Central Bank.
    • When Walraven approaches the head of the Dutch national railway about organising a strike, the conversation gets heated when he dismisses them as "adventurers". Walraven points out he's been happy to make millions shipping Jews off to the death camps for the Germans, and is only going along with the strike to ingratiate himself with the Government in Exile now that the Allies are winning.
  • Counterfeit Cash: To fund a national railroad strike, La Résistance plan to remove government treasury bonds held in the Central Bank and replace them with forgeries. There's skepticism as to whether the forgeries will pass inspection, until it's pointed out that the electricity is out in the basement vault (due to wartime fuel shortages) and so the inspection of the bonds will be made via lamplight.
  • Dangerously Close Shave: Inverted as it actually saves Walraven. He is about to meet a resistance contact, when a barber suddenly drags him into a shop and starts shaving him. It soon becomes clear the Germans had already arrested his contact and were hiding in wait for him. Without the barber, Walraven would have walked right into a trap. When the Germans shoot the man they arrested right outside the shop the barber's hand is shaking, though he doesn't cut Walraven because he stops at that point.
  • Fatal Family Photo: A variation; when Walraven has to go on the run, he has a formal portrait taken and leaves it with his wife. He does have a chance to see them again in 1945, but is arrested and shot shortly after.
  • Forensic Accounting: Averted; Meinoud has to go to the SD to use their methods to track down the Resistance banking organisation, the Van Hall brothers having worked out a covert means of record keeping involving worthless stocks and fake insurance forms.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: After the war the Dutch government wanted to cover everything up because it involves the State Bank being involved in bank fraud. As a result Walraven's heroism goes unrecognized for many years.
  • Home by Christmas
    • "It won't be long." Gilligan Cut to title card saying: Two years later...
    • London has ordered a nationwide railway strike. The leader of the railway corporation assures Walraven that they have an emergency fund to cover the wages of the striking workers for an estimated three weeks—this is in September 1944. Walraven isn't assured the war will end that quickly, and therefore has to get hold of the millions required.
  • The Holocaust: Is shown as one of the main motives for Walraven to help the resistance. His Jewish colleague's family kill themselves when they are told to leave their house (likely aware that even worse is to come). There is also a scene of a train passing Walraven's train, filled with desperate people being taken to a concentration camp.
  • I Have Your Wife: After the mistress of Jonas van Berkel is arrested, the SD pressure him into becoming their informant in exchange for her release.
  • Infinite Supplies: Averting this is the entire subject of the movie. Funding resistance activities and supporting the families of those who have fled the country costs a lot of money, and personal charity by patriotic citizens is not enough. The Framing Device that runs through the movie is Gijs being called to account by the Dutch government after the war—they have a Mass "Oh, Crap!" on finding that almost 100 million guilders have been spent (which they're expected to pay back) when the Government in Exile only authorised 30 million.
  • Jumped at the Call:
    • Walraven van Hall eagerly takes up the chance to help the resistance.
    • When they are recruiting people for their next plan, the brothers Van Hall meet someone in a strip club and propose a plan. Having just spoken to someone who had been very reluctant, they probably expect a similar reaction now. He summarizes what they want, Gijs starts to say he can understand that it would be much to ask, but he immediately agrees and walks off. Even Walraven looks surprised at the quick agreement.
  • Nom de Guerre:
    • "Van Tuyl" for Walraven. This name gets dragged out of a tortured resistance member, but it doesn't mean anything to the Germans then. Even when they finally capture Walraven, it takes the Germans a while to figure out who he is.
    • The Dutch naval officer who first recruits Walraven goes by the name of "Van den Berg".
  • Refusal of the Call: Gijs is reluctant to join the risky, grand plans of his brother. Some other people are as well, but he convinces most in the end.
  • Railing Kill: How Meinoud dies; it's left ambiguous whether he committed suicide or was pushed by his captors.
  • La Résistance: The wealthy branch of it. The main characters don't go around sabotaging, distributing forbidden newspapers, let people hide in their house or striking—but they do help finance a lot of it.
  • Shot at Dawn: Van Den Berg is neckshot along with several other prisoners at dawn. Wally gets a Public Execution by Firing Squad at the edge of a canal, only a few months before the end of the war.
  • Take That!: To the Dutch national railway, which after the war was held in high regard for the lengthy strike. Here it's shown they had no problem collaborating beforehand, and only agree to go on strike if their workers are paid full wages.
  • We Need a Distraction: The Caper to steal the treasury bonds takes place on a day when Meinoud is supposed to be in the Hague, but he returns early. So Gijs enters the bank and tells Meinoud he has discovered the identity of the mysterious "Van Tuyl", claiming he heard a rumor it was Van den Berg who has already been caught and shot by the Germans. Meinoud is so shocked he ignores a ringing phone from the man in the basement trying to find if the removal of the treasury bonds is authorized (though he dismisses the 'rumor' as the Resistance is still going strong, which wouldn't happen if their funds had dried up).
  • Worthless Currency: Exploited Trope. To maintain accounts on the people who have donated money to La Résistance, yet not leave evidence that can enable to German occupiers to identify them, Walraven gives them worthless shares from Czarist Russia which no-one will pay attention to, yet can be handed in for reimbursement after the war, each share being the equivalent of 1000 guilders. The serial numbers of the shares sold have been noted down by Walraven, but it's just a meaningless string of numbers.