Movie Review | Narvik: When staying neutral isnt a choice anymore


28 January 2023

Both World Wars have been extensively documented and we have lots of movies chronicling these catastrophic events. However, such big turning points WWI and WWII are in human history, that every year we keep getting newer takes exploring hitherto unheard angles. 

One such latest attempt is ‘Narvik’, a Norwegian movie.  After ‘Troll’, it’s another interesting movie from Norway. 

Narvik is a small town in Norway that was neutral when WWII broke out. Sweden was the main source of iron ore the Germans required and it was shipped out from Narvik. As it was strategically important to Germans, the German troops wanted to conquer it. On the other hand, British and French troops also wanted it. Caught in this crossfire are the Norwegian army and the people of Narvik. They no longer could afford to be neutral and are forced to take sides.

‘Narvik’ tells the moving story of one such family -  corporal Gunnar Tofte (Carl Martin Eggesbø), his wife Ingrid (Kristine Hartgen), and their son, Ole. Circumstances pitch the husband and wife on opposite sides. Ingrid is proficient with the German language and hence the soldiers living in the hotel she is working in, draft her as an interpreter. At the same time, she also helps two British representatives hide. However, when her son gets injured in a bombing and needs immediately to be operated upon by a German doctor, she is forced to grass up the location of British representatives to Germans. Meanwhile, Gunnar and his team recapture Narvik and make Hitler taste his first defeat in what is today known as the ‘Battle of Narvik.’ Gunnar returns home victorious but is shattered to know his wife was helping the Germans all along as he was risking his life to throw them out.

Kristine Hartgen delivers a memorable performance as a mother and a forced double agent. She brilliantly portrays Ingrid’s vulnerability and steely resolve. Carl Martin Eggesbø as a soldier also shines.

Director Erik Skjoldbjærg has managed to keep the pace and scale of the movie plausible. The battle scenes shown are sleek.

‘Narvik’ might be one of those few movies wherein the battle sequences are not unnecessarily mounted on a large scale, yet they are worth watching. Be it the tunnel scene, wherein Gunnar has to blow up the bridge on which a train carrying his wife and kid are traveling, or the one in which we see Ingrid rushing to provide her kid medical care even as the bombing is going on make viewers sit up and marvel at the director’s hold over his craft.

Even though it’s a war film it is not densely populated. There are only a few characters and it works as the focus on the main plot never wavers.  Essentially, ‘Narvik’ is not an out-and-out war movie but an emotional saga of a mother who can do the unthinkable for her child when she is left with no choice.

The vast fjords, snowy terrain as the backdrop, and a haunting background score heighten the tension in this movie which is a fictionalized account of events that actually occurred.

‘Narvik’ is a decent piece of work highlighting the toll war takes on innocent people and what one can do when left with no choice. It has an emotional hook. It’s both plucky and poignant. You can watch this battle being fought on Netflix.

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