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  Betrayed Norway's Shame
Year: 2020
Director: Eirik Svensson
Stars: Jakob Oftebro, Kristine Kujath Thorp, Carl Martin Eggesbo, Michalis Koutsogiannakis, Pia Halvorsen, Eilif Hartwig, Silje Storstein, Nicolai Cleve Broch, Axel Boyum, Hanna-Maria Gronneberg, Anders Danielsen Lie, Inga Ibsdotter Lilleaas, Audon Sandem
Genre: WarBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: In 1942, Norway had been invaded by Nazi Germany and come November of that year, the small Jewish population of the country, already victimised under the orders of the invaders, were subjected to the horror that many of their race were unable to escape from. But let us look at one family, the Braudes, who counted among their number Charles Braude (Jakob Oftebro) who a few short years before had been the pride of Norway for beating Sweden in a big boxing match. His pugilistic prowess was second to none, and won him plenty of respect, yet as the storm clouds of war had gathered on the Southern horizon, he was going to have to face a reckoning...

Betrayed was, of course, based on a true story, a national scandal that was only served with an official apology in 2012, as the end credits inform us, by which time most of the people it would have truly mattered to were dead. But the point of films like this which highlight injustice is to try and make sure it never happens again, though with the rise of nationalism across the globe when this was released well underway, there was a danger it would be largely ignored, even in its homeland, and with that the lessons of the past lost to the ages. Which would be a pity in this case, since it was a very accomplished work that gained considerable momentum.

Yes, there was the unavoidable feeling that as it began, we had often been here before, and the matter of how often you can tell the same story before it ceases to resonate was a concerning one, especially when subjects like genocide were involved. Also, whenever a story of the Holocaust was related on the big screen, it was impossible to forget that Steven Spielberg had created the definitive account of it with Schindler's List in 1993, and whatever the most well-meaning filmmaker crafted, it was always going to be judged by that. Indeed, many would bring that to mind as the Holocaust drama to end all Holocaust dramas, and leave it at that.

Not Spielberg's intention, it should be emphasised, he regarded the story of Schindler and the people he rescued as one story among millions and not the full stop on their stories, after all around six million Jews were not as lucky as those who Schindler helped out, which may explain why director Eirik Svensson was interested in telling the tale of the Braudes. Some of them survived, but most of them did not, and while there were hundreds of Jews who were deported to the death camps from Norway, that was not as bad as some countries' death tolls. Yet to play the statistics game was a fool's errand, one person would have been too many, and by concentrating on the clan of one celebrity in Norway, Svensson was able to open out their ordeal.

This was no idealised Jewish brood, as Charles is uncomfortable with his background and clashes with his father, marrying a Gentile (Kristine Kujath Thorp) both because of love, but also we suspect an attempt to distance himself from his race and the antisemitism that he would face had he embraced it. Yet what was important about Betrayed was the way it did not merely focus on Charles's experiences - he ends up in a prison camp with an officer keen to beat him in a boxing match that would spell trouble for him, especially if he won - but the whole family, with particular attention paid to the matriarch of the family, Sara (Pia Halvorsen). Little old ladies, no matter how sweet they are as she is here, get pretty short shrift in war yarns, so it was encouraging to see Sara be our witness to the atrocities meted out to Norway's Jews, since they had more shock value when inflicted on someone so innocent. This took its time to reach that moving conclusion, probably too much if you were honest, but it found its feet as it went on and impressed in its humanity and as a monument of sorts. Music by Johan Soderqvist.

Aka: Den storste forbrytelsen

[Signature Entertainment presents Betrayed on Digital Platforms & DVD 10th May 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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