Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat 2023 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online
In the 1930s, Narvik was a major exporter of iron ore (just like today) that both the British and the Germans depended on, but especially Hitler, so that he could continue his warfare.
On 9 April 1940, Norway’s neutrality is broken and the Germans enter Narvik without meeting much resistance. Gunnar Tofte, together with some of the other soldiers in Narvik, takes up the fight against the Germans.
His wife, Ingrid Tofte, has to take care of their son while also being available as an interpreter for the Germans at the Royal Hotell.
Skjoldbjærg from Tromsø. Skjoldbjærg has previously directed films such as Nokas (2010), Pionér (2013) and Pyromanen (2016).
With this, he has good experience in Norwegian dramas based on historical events, which comes in handy for The Battle of Narvik .
The film’s greatest strength is the sound mix , which really gives value for money. The good bass response makes you feel like you’re actually there.
As a grenade goes off, you can feel it on your body as the cinema’s subwoofers work overtime to give you a little extra tingling in your stomach. The vibrations hit effectively and give the explosions good depth and weight as they should have in a war film of this calibre.
When the houses explode, you feel the rumble and bite spread among all the speakers in the cinema hall. It’s almost so believable that you’d think you had some leftovers left on your shirt.
The main characters Gunnar Tofte and Ingrid Tofte are played by Carl Martin Eggesbø and Kristine Hartgen respectively. They are married and have a son named Ole Tofte (Christoph Gelfert Mathiesen).
There aren’t that many big, well-known names on the cast list, but among the few obvious ones there is Stig Henrik Hoff in a good supporting role as Gunnar Tofte’s father.
Henrik Mestad can also be found in the role of Major Omberg. Henrik Mestad is not an outright bad actor, but he lacks some basic facial expressions that are needed to make the character he plays lifelike.
In between all the explosions, highlights and warfare, something is sadly missing. With a short playing time of 1 hour and 48 minutes, we never get enough time to get under the skin of the main characters.
The running time gives the filmmakers very little time to build up the characters and make us care about them. The battle for Narvik has more in common with an adrenaline-filled action film than a war drama.
If you compare this film with Krigsseileren (2022), which came out earlier this autumn, it is clear that Kampen om Narvik lacks a strong nerve and storytelling that takes hold and sticks all the way through.
Basic character traits that make Gunnar and Ingrid Tofte interesting are missing. This means that you end up with characters that can only be seen as necessary puzzle pieces in a puzzle.
The main characters have children – and together with Gunnar’s father, they are quite a close-knit family. It takes more than this to make the audience care about the main characters.
It is clear that Carl Martin Eggesbø (Gunnar Tofte) and Kristine Hartgen (Ingrid Tofte) have more to offer, but they are limited to a pre-selected path. This makes it very difficult for both actors to come up with anything more than what the script requires of them.
The film is told from two points of view. On the one hand, you have Ingrid as a German interpreter in Narvik. She represents the civilian side and really gets to feel the Germans’ anger over Narvik. Gunnar represents the military side that tries to hold back the German forces and prevent them as best they can from advancing.
To a large extent, both Ingrid and Gunnar are riding a predetermined wave that has already made the choices for them without them having much of an impact on how the story develops. There is no doubt that the civilian side of the story is the most interesting.
Ingrid is the character who is pushed the most and challenged. She has to make the toughest choices in order for the narrative to keep moving forward with a continuous momentum.
Gunnar, for his part, largely gets many of the choices taken care of. It is clear that when you are a soldier you do not make the choices yourself. The superiors are responsible for the decisions. The result of this is that the war does not seem to affect Gunnar as much as it does Ingrid.
In a way, he escapes and avoids the weight of making the most difficult and heavy choices that would no doubt weigh on his conscience for a long time.
The battle for Narvik is largely based on realism, but the closer you get to the film’s climax, the more noticeable it is that the realism gradually disappears. It suddenly doesn’t seem so important that a grenade at close range would kill an ordinary person.
There are several soldiers you get to know who have head bleeds and similar serious injuries. Soldiers seem almost unaffected by what has just happened and continue to walk on without any consequences from their injuries.
The film takes a variety of liberties to assist the story and the scriptwriters’ wishes. At the same time, the film loses much of its tension and makes it easier for the audience to dismiss the film as nothing more than a pastime without any particular historical importance.
By the time we approach the film’s climax and ending, I’m left with a rather mixed feeling. The battle for Narvik just ends suddenly without connecting all the story threads. By the time the film is “over”, there is still plenty of activity brewing on the horizon.
The film offers good entertainment during its barely two hours, but begins to fall apart around the climax and especially during its final minutes. The film ends up not representing the battle for Narvik as well as one might have hoped for. On the other hand, you get enough bang and action for the money.