Max Manus (open spoilers)

Ok, I just came back from viewing the norwegian movie “Max Manus” (a day early, too - fairly cool, no commercials, the actors were there.)

Anyway, no-one else has probably seen it, so this will sink like a stone - I know Gukumatz was an extra, has anyone else gone?

Anyway, a fairly good movie. I’d expected a different emphasis, and the chosen narrative style isn’t my favorite, but the action is realistic, the dialogue is great (even funny at times) and the acting is way better than much else norwegian. It was touching.

(I was downtown when they put the nazi flag on the parliament building for the movie and had “nazi soldiers” marching up the street - my heart was in my mouth!)

In case anyone wants to know what the hell I’m talking about, here is trailer with subtitles: Max Manus

Oh, yeah, and if Guku wants to share the nazi fuckup story, go right ahead here.

A Norwegian friend of mine just told me a couple hours ago that he was going to go see this. He was saying that he expects it to be the best movie since “Nine Lives” and “F-something Grand Prix” to come out of Norway. I’ll ask him tomorrow whether it lived up to his expectations.

He. Well, “F-something Grand Prix” would be a hard one to beat, seing as it’s a childrens classic (Flåklypa, BTW).

If hisexpectations are that high, he may be dissapointed, unless he has a WWII ressistance movement fetish. It’s a fine movie, but not that fine.

(Flåklypa Grand Prix was titled the Pinchcliffe Grand Prix in English-speaking countries. Absolutely well worth watching, though I can’t recall if it was dubbed or subtitled. Brilliant movie for children, gorgeous stop-motion animation.)

Looking forward to watching Max Manus with my parents back home in the northwest, between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s about the Oslo-boys, the Norwegian militia saboteurs in and around Oslo who made life annoying for the occupants. One might accuse the director of choosing a bad time to make a Hollywood-style movie glorifying resistance fighters in an occupied country, though.

I do hope it makes it to some foreign cinemas. I know it will probably make it to Germany - they eat up most Norwegian films - as well as France and most of the eastern bloc, but doubt it’ll hit the US with anything resembling force.

I was an extra during the march down Karl Johan, in uniform with a Swastika on my upper arm, a Karr 98 over my shoulder (you can see me just a bit in this picture - I’m hidden behind another guy, but I’m the tallest guy in the picture, a bit to the left of the central light post in the middle of the picture.) a helmet and in step with the 350 other extras.

The real pity about the shoot was that the extras signed up for it - all supposed to be young, late teens to early twenties - were supposed to show up to the National Guard’s Camp in the start of May to get marching lessons. Only 1/3 of us did. Now, you’re probably thinking, those who were there and in the know should be distributed with two of the other guys that didn’t attend, to keep them in line and show them how it’s done. They didn’t do that.

Another glaring flaw was that they put the band we were supposed to march after about a kilometre in front of the back of the line. You couldn’t hear the drum beat clearly enough to sync your marching - particularly if you hadn’t been in training - and the extra handlers were growing confounded with our inability to march in time. It says something about the level of chaos when me and a buddy in the ranks had to break ranks in a pause to suggest having only the drummers play for real, so we could actually make out the beat. Geez.

Anyway, they got some good shots at the end of the day where we were all pretty much in step - after some of the extras towards the back had started to appoint officers internally to keep people in line. Cue fuck-up number three - when we were done being weary, marching soldiers, we got bussed back to base, changed clothes and were supposed to be thrilled, exited Norwegian civilians cheering for the return of the Royal Family, down at the docks. Which took ages to set up and by that time the lot of us had been out, marching in badly fitting shoes, with only a lunch to sustain us, for nearly twelve hours. Not very cheery mood, to be honest.

Anyway, it was a fucked up feeling standing at attention in a Nazist uniform, on Karl Johan, in front of the Parliament . . . when suddenly they unrolled the Swastika on top of the Parliament and the banners with the phrase “Deutchland Siegt an alle Fronten!”

You can see a picture of the comparison, here.

Most of the small-location shots I was at were handled much better and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they’ve managed to do to Oslo.

There’s a pretty cool TV snap of the happening, here: Scroll down a bit and click on the video.

That’s the trouble with the way they told the story in the movie here, they are really only speaking to people who know the story already, or know how things worked in Norway during WWII. Someone who doesn’t will really get lost quickly. It only works as a norwegian domestic film, I don’t think anybody watching it as a “foreign” movie will get much out of it.

For example:

  1. What the hell are they doing in Sweden all the time?
  2. What does the bit about Finland have to do with anything?
  3. Who is the danish dude with the huge mustache?
  4. Who is the odly-speaking comander in Scottland, and why is it such a big deal to be part of his unit?
  5. Why is it significant that a particular building has a swastica on it?

Keep in mind, I know these things - but only because I’m interrested in such things. Due to a number of circumstances, I never went through norwegian primary school, and thus never had the everyman version of norwegian history. If I had not been interrested, and read up on this stuff on my own, I never would have known much beyond #1 and #5 - I imagine a complete foreigner would have known even less.

Sorry for resurrecting this, but I felt compelled to add some responses after having seen the movie.

I liked it. If the start had been better, I would have loved it.

I do agree with most all of Septima’s points, though. It’s engineered towards the kind of euro-centric WWII history that one can’t expect to find in the States or the Asias. Sweden’s neutrality, the Winter War in Finland (and the factions perpetrating it), the (Danish) King of Norway, the INCNOR company in Scotland and that it was Parliament itself that had the Swastika on it are all given and never explained. Of course, explaining it would have been difficult and could easily have been seen as condescending by Norwegians, but surely they could have incorporated some throwaway lines like “I won’t tolerate seeing the hook-cross over Parliament for another day!” It’d have made it by far more cohesive and accessible for foreigners.

For once, Aksel Hennie was well cast. He did good. I’m a big Mats Eldøen fan (the blonde “romsdaling”) since he does improv. theatre over at Chateau Neuf. But Ken Duken, the German, was brilliantly cast. (At least they gave Ane Dahl Torp and Kristoffer Joner a pass . . .)

It’s a far more person-centric war film than most and I felt it came off a bit over-done. I felt the acting was decent and the characters well developed, but it wasn’t carried all the way through and the technical and artistical fidelity weren’t up to par. (We finally got ONE Norwegian film with good sound, though!)

Well, I´m hoping they kept some extra footage to put back here and there, make the whole thing flow easier. Or they could ad bits of explanatory text or something for a foreign release.

I really loved Ken Duken in this one. Charming, beatiful, idealistic and deliciously evil. Spot on casting and acting.

I a have feeling some of his bit of story wound up on the cutting room floor - they spent so much time setting up the relationship between him and the norwegian secretaty, and then nothing - why wasn´t she there at the end, sans pretty hair? I heard she was meant to stand in for all the women he got involved with, but if we´re never meant to see what happened to her, I think it would have worked better if there was a different woman in each scene. Someone made a wrong choice here, I think.

What didn´t you like about the beginning?