How Soon Is Too Soon for a Movie of Real-Life Trauma?

How Soon Is Too Soon for a Movie of Real-Life Trauma?

Norway has struggled lately to pay tribute to victims of the assault. A deliberate memorial close to Utoya was canceled after public complaints, and lots of have argued that the media’s give attention to Mr. Breivik, who has filed complaints about his treatment in prison and recently changed his name to Fjotolf Hansen, has taken consideration away from the victims. “I spotted there needs to be a narrative from the younger folks’s views fully, that brings that into our collective reminiscence once more,” Mr. Poppe stated.

“U — July 22” is a rigorously trustworthy reconstruction of the occasions on the island. It carefully follows a fictional 19-year-old named Kaja (Andrea Berntzen), who’s separated from her youthful sister when the assault begins, and is compelled to scramble for shelter — in a small constructing, amongst bushes and alongside the island’s rocky shoreline — as others are murdered round her. In a formidable technical feat, the 90-minute movie was recorded in a single take, with two invisible cuts to cover geographical variations between Utoya and the neighboring island on which it was filmed.

When Mr. Poppe first approached the nationwide help group for victims of the July 22 assaults about his plans to make a movie, some members of the group voiced considerations that not sufficient time had handed. “We have been apprehensive it could be too early, as a result of many individuals wish to defend themselves,” stated Lisbeth Royneland, the chair of the group’s board.


“It wasn’t simply an assault on these youngsters on the island,” the director Erik Poppe stated. It was “additionally an assault on our democracy.”

Credit score
Erik Buras

One mom of a sufferer, Mr. Poppe recalled, supplied him a stern warning about depicting something past what actually occurred. “She stated, ‘In the event you make it about one thing else — love, hope — I’ll by no means, ever, ever forgive you. I’ll hunt you down,’ ” he stated. However after Mr. Poppe defined his plans for a pared-down movie centered on the victims, the group’s leaders gave their blessing.

Mr. Poppe’s choice to make the movie has been closely debated within the Norwegian media. In an article last summer for the website of NRK, the nationwide broadcaster, one survivor accused Mr. Poppe of “turning my life’s nightmare into standard leisure” and argued that Norwegians ought to as a substitute be discussing the unfold of Mr. Breivik’s ideology.

Mr. Poppe stated that he couldn’t argue with survivors’ private emotions however that he believed that in an period of rising right-wing populism throughout Europe and in the remainder of the Western world, he felt it was particularly necessary to indicate the implications of extremist ideology.

In making ready the movie, Mr. Poppe and his staff carried out interviews with over 40 survivors and integrated their experiences into the script. One scene by which Kaja sings Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colours” to relax different hiding youths, as an example, replicates an actual second on the island, even all the way down to the tune.

Mr. Poppe and his staff filmed with a solid of novice actors over 5 days in September final yr, utilizing loudspeakers to copy the precise variety of pictures fired by Mr. Breivik. The audio system, he stated, have been turned away from the shoreline to keep away from traumatizing neighbors, and a number of other survivors have been on set to make sure the movie’s accuracy. Mr. Poppe, who has beforehand labored as a warfare photographer, additionally partly drew on his expertise working in battle areas like Afghanistan.

To get the position of Kaja, Ms. Berntzen — a 20-year-old whose solely earlier appearing expertise had been in highschool theatrical revues — needed to bear eight auditions and a psychiatric analysis. And to keep up secrecy, she was solely advised halfway by the method what the movie was truly about. “I bear in mind considering I needs to be joyful if I don’t get a task,” she stated in an interview, referring to the weird strategy. However when Mr. Poppe defined his concepts and motives, she was satisfied, she stated.

“A complete technology is being born now for which July 22 is changing into as distant as World Battle II,” Ms. Berntzen added. “That’s why it’s necessary to have this film.”

The response to the movie in Norway has been usually optimistic, with a robust efficiency on the field workplace and lots of critics praising its depth and faithfulness to the occasions. One writer in the newspaper Dagbladet, nevertheless, argued that the movie lacked any curiosity in exploring an even bigger “drawback or rigidity,” and complained that it “is extra enthusiastic about reproducing historical past than including something to it.”

Earlier than the film’s Berlin premiere, the filmmakers held screenings for the survivors and family throughout the nation. Renate Tarnes, now the secretary normal of the Labor Celebration’s youth group, who survived the taking pictures by hiding in a restaurant on the island, stated that when she noticed the movie, her first response was “aid, as a result of I actually felt he and his crew understood what we’ve been by.”

Afterward, she texted Mr. Poppe to say that she had “been actually skeptical, that I didn’t assume it was attainable to do it in a great way.” However the director, she stated, “stunned me.”

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