Dramatizations of our great national tragedy are lining up. Why is it more sensitive that a foreigner tells the story of 22 July tan one of our own filmmakers?
Netflix is making a movie about the 22 July attacks in Oslo, and despite the winter cold tempers are flaring. The ambivalence felt towards a commercial international portrayal of the terrorist attack is widespread, and the size of the signature campaign against Paul Greengrass’s coming movie Norway says it all.
Yes, to many it’s too early. At the same time, the dramatizations of our great national tragedy are lining up. NRK is producing their own TV series, Erik Poppe is making a movie about it and a new documentary and an arthouse project are also on their way.
Why does it feel more sensitive to have a foreigner tell the 22 July story than to have a Norwegian doing so? The Norwegian Film Institute has issued an invitation to a master class with Greengrass – they’ve managed to capture him right in the middle of the hectic shooting process. A rare scoop – and a golden opportunity to find out more about the controversial project. But not only for the listeners: Greengrass himself, it turns out, also gets something special out of the encounter.
«A survivor from Utøya talks about the need to tell the story of 22 july from a different angle than that of the bird’s eye view.»
One of us
The biggest viewing room at Cinemateket is jampacked with expectant audience members – primarily young men. The British director is widely known for his contribution to the Jason Bourne-series, but my admiration for him stems from the masterpiece Bloody Sunday, about the gunning down of 28 Irish demonstrators during the conflict in Northern Ireland. A long time has passed since Greengrass made that filmic jewel, however, and the scepticism surrounding Greengrass’s 22 July dramatization has been rapidly gathering strength. The trip wires are numerous, and the director is so obviously not one of us, even if Åsne Seierstad’s eponymous book forms the basis for his movie. Whereas Poppe’s film leaves out the perpetrator, Greengrass goes in the opposite direction, and in the role as the perpetrator he has cast the dangerously charismatic and empathetic Anders Danielsen Lie. Good drama obviously relies on having a brilliant antagonist, but Danielsen Lie’s talent and magnetism may produce a seductive effect.
Overcome by my own galloping prejudice I’m considering leaving the event when Greengrass suddenly comes flying in from the movie set and stumbles heavily on the lowest step. The audience holds its breath the three milliseconds it takes before he’s back on his feet. The burly man with the wild shock of grey hair spontaneously makes his apologies and immediately scores empathy points from the audience, myself included.