Am pleased to be submitting (along with Angel) Arne Skouen’s Nine Lives (Ni Liv). As it is almost upon us, thought I would make an into thread – a rather brief and rushed one being cobbled together on the principle that hopefully something late and brief will be better than nothing. Angel might be more knowledgeable on Norwegian cinema, and political social context on Norway’s role in the war, tensions between collaborators and resistance fighters, role of the Laps and so on, and perhaps will add something.
As others may know, the film is based on the wartime experiences of the Norwegian resistance fighter Jan Baalsrud which is told in full in the novel We Die Alone by David Howarth (a friend of Baalsrud). Baalsrud, escaping wounded from a destroyed special mission boat, took two months of struggle against tremendous physical odds to reach neutral Sweden.
Despite the ongoing threat of execution if discovered, Baalsrud was aided and abetted by sympathetic Norwegian patriots. It is a story of tremendous courage, kindness and the sheer will to survive in defiance against not just occupying forces but also the brutal Norwegian winter; the cold blizzard like conditions depicted in the film are palpable.
The film was the first Norwegian movie to be nominated for an Oscar in the category “Best foreign language movie”. (The only Norwegian feature film to win an Academy Award has been Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki). Nine Lives was also nominated for the Golden Palm in Cannes in 1958 (winner – The Cranes are Flying).
Nine Lives, next to Gategutter, is considered the most important work of Arne Skouen, and Skouen is considered the most influential director in a country which has never achieved the reputation/recognition of other Scandinavian countries. Nine Lives and Kampen om tungtvannet (1948) gained the most recognition abroad, the latter being remade as The Heroes of Telemark starring Kirk Douglas. I saw Nine Lives when, after seeing Essential Killing, I went searching for similar films on desperate struggles for freedom against the odds in impossible terrain and someone recommended it.
The film is shot mile for mile along the actual escape route in the Lyngen Alps with Jan himself along as advisor. It feels very authentic and has some terrific cinematography. The scenes with the reindeer are awesome!
I’m easily brought to tears I guess, but I found Nine Lives an emotional tale well told and hope others will find things here to admire and feel inspired about.
I couldn’t get this to post in the World Cup section….could you rectify that please Riss?!?
this looks great meg! can’t wait xD
:) botched the posting, I can never get them in the right place LOL
ooooooo I can’t wait to watch this one.
Good intro, Meg! I can not add much more since I’m pretty ignorant about classic Norwegian cinema (I know only a couple of films older than Nine Lives and one is directed by the Danish master Dreyer).
The film begins as a war thriller (anyone remember Milestone’s Edge of Darkness?) but then evolves in a different way. You must not expect aesthetic or narrative liberties (as in Erik Løchen’s Jakten) since the film is based on actual events, but it’s not difficult to understand why there are critics who still consider this movie the best in Norwegian filmography. A triumph.
And don’t forget the coat, it’s cold outside!
not sure if i’ll manage to watch this for the cup, but will definitely be getting to it as soon as i can! norwegian cinema is a big silence in my head next to its neighbours (although i did like jakten, not least for the scenery….even if i do detect a slightly scathing tone in angel’s reference to ‘liberties’) thanks for picking it guys!
does anyone know anything about norwegian cinema? where is their bergman or dreyer or sjostrom etc