Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat Parent Guide
This Norwegian World War II provides a nuanced picture of occupation and combat that is interesting for teen and adult viewers.
Parent Movie Review
With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Norway declares neutrality. The massive amounts of Swedish steel that are exported through Norway provide opportunities for profit, especially in the port city of Narvik, which is just far enough south to remain unfrozen year-round. Both British and German military units are stationed in town with the Norwegian military ensuring that they behave themselves. The peace doesn’t last and when the Nazis seize the port, destroying several Norwegian vessels in the process, Narvik becomes a city under occupation.
With neutrality a thing of the past, Norwegian Corporal Gunnar Tofte (Carl Martin Eggesbo) moves with his unit to destroy German supply lines through the mountains, leaving his wife Ingrid (Kristine Hartgen), son Ole (Christoph Gelfert Mathiesen), and father Aslak (Stig Henrik Hoff) in town. While his fight in the mountains is difficult, Ingrid is in a far more precarious position. She works at the hotel, which has been turned into the command center for the German forces. One of the few German speakers in town, Ingrid has been translating negotiations between the German Konsul Wussow (Christoph Bach) and local authorities, but her seemingly chummy relations with the occupiers have made her few friends. Worse, she’s trying to keep secret the location of the British delegation in the mountains while feeding them information about Germany’s defensive plans for Narvik. When the British navy arrives to liberate the town, Ingrid and the rest of the family find themselves caught in the crossfire – can they stay alive long enough to reunite their family?
I really appreciate the recent trend towards WWII films being made about civilian populations in occupied nations by those nations. Films made by the Americans and the British tend to be heroic epics about brave soldiers shipping overseas to liberate countries they couldn’t find on a map. While those stories are also an important part of the broader history of the war, they also have a tendency to be quite limited in perspective. Movies like Narvik, on the other hand, expose their audience to the more difficult and nuanced experience of surviving as a civilian in a war that seems certain to destroy the world.
With its focus on family and survival over combat and strategy, Narvik provides interesting insight. The production is also remarkably well suited to a younger audience. While there is some violence, it is not particularly graphic, and the focus on the civilian stories means there’s less of it than you typically see in war films. There’s also dramatically less profanity than I would expect. Some of that may just be lost in translation, but according to the subtitles there was hardly any at all – if any of you speak Norwegian and feel like correcting me, I’d love to hear about the differences.
As a look behind the curtain of German occupation and an introduction to the war for younger viewers and students, I think this film has a lot of value. It may not be the most harrowing depiction of the brutality of the conflict, but it addresses a lot of the challenging nuances of living under Nazi control and is well worth watching.Directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg. Starring Kristine Hargen, Carl Martin Eggesbo, Christoph Bach. Running time: 108 minutes. Theatrical release January 27, 2023. Updated January 22, 2024
Watch the trailer for Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat
Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat
Rating & Content Info
Why is Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat rated TV-14? Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat is rated TV-14 by the MPAA
Violence: People are shot and injured or killed in explosions. Characters are seen suffering from burns and shrapnel injuries. A man’s head is crushed by a falling structural beam. A man is seen burning after an explosion.
Sexual Content: A married couple are seen kissing passionately and undressing. No nudity or sexual activity are seen.
Profanity: There are three sexual expletives and infrequent uses of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen smoking tobacco and drinking socially.
Page last updated January 22, 2024
Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat Parents' Guide
What constitutes collaboration with Nazis? How were collaborators treated during occupation? How did that change when the Nazis left? Were the results different in different countries?
Why was Narvik so important to Germany? Was it as important to the Allies? Why or why not? How did resource distribution affect the course of the war and the selection of targets? What resources was Germany rich in? What did the Allies have in abundance? How did those material concerns influence military procurement and strategy?
How did Norway fare for the rest of the war? What did the war change politically? Who was Vidkun Quisling? What is he famous for?
Several nations declared neutrality at the outbreak of the war. Were those declarations respected?