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Film Of The Week Utoya: surviving hell

MARIA DUARTE believes the singular focus on the resilience of the victims is both edifying and a blow to fascists

Utoya – July 22 (15)
Directed by Erik Poppe

THIS is the second film in two weeks dealing with the 2011 Utoya massacre, but, unlike Paul Greengrass's version, this unfolds in real time, seemingly in one take, as it depicts the harrowing gunning down of 69 young people on the Norwegian island entirely from their perspective.

Although the characters are fictional the film is based on detailed accounts from many of the real survivors.

What this reconstruction captures is the horror, the panic, the confusion and the terror those youngsters underwent at the hands of far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik, when he hunted them down at Labour's youth league summer camp dressed as a police officer.

His killing spree along with an earlier bomb attack on government offices in Oslo, in which eight people died, was intended as a warning to Norway's Labour Party to change its policies.

Interestingly Breivik is neither seen nor mentioned by name as director Erik Poppe's film starves him of any further oxygen of publicity.

Yet you see the consequences of his actions through the eyes of 18-year-old Kaja (Andrea Berntzen) as she tries to hide from Breivik, helping younger kids to escape to safety as she searches for her missing younger sister.

Her friends question the length of time it is taking the police to come to their rescue as well as how this could be happening to them in this remote summer retreat.

Although extremely difficult to watch it is a timely reminder of the tremendous cost of this mass killing — the worst in Norway's history — and by personalising the victims it makes it hit home more poignantly.

 

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