‘Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat’ Characters, Explained: The Significance Of Gunnar’s Choice To Leave Narvik

The mere mention of Adolf Hitler in world history is enough to incite terror. Adolf Hitler, the most notorious personality in world history, is the man behind the orchestration of World War II, the invasion of Poland and Norway, and mass genocide known as the holocaust. One such horror is depicted in Erik Skjoldbjaerg’s most recent war drama, “Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat.” In “Narvik,” Norway’s struggle for independence and its internal strife are depicted. The film is shown through the eyes of the fictional Tofte family, where Gunnar Tofte was a Norwegian soldier and his wife Ingrid worked as a waitress in a hotel in Narvik. The film presents the horror of war, the unpredictability of life, and a dramatic account of events that happened in Norway in 1940 during the German invasion. But let’s dive into the story of Narvik through these characters’ perspectives. While the intensity of war prompted Gunnar to live by the ideals of sacrifice for his country, his wife chose treason. Let’s discuss the reason.

Norway declared neutrality, but during World War II it was not taken into consideration as stated in the film, but according to historical reports, on August 4, 1914, three days after Germany declared war on Russia, Norway declared neutrality. However, the Germans had their sights set on iron ore, which they intended to utilize to make weapons. 85% of the iron ore that was moved from Narvik to the ports of Germany by train across the border came from Sweden. Great Britain wished to halt its movement. Norway’s neutrality was violated when the opposing countries declared war on each other in order to stop the supply. On April 8, 1940, when the British marine force bombed Norwegian waterways, a group of Norwegian soldiers was ordered to serve as neutrality guards. The film “Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat” used a fictional turn in depicting the fate of Gunnar Tofte, a soldier from Norway whose family was embroiled in the disaster.

Despite having all the leave canceled, Gunnar was permitted to visit his family for his son’s birthday in Narvik. He met his wife, Ingrid, at a hotel where she was a waitress and a German interpreter. Gunnar was more than just a soldier. He was a devoted husband and father who looked out for his son. He took time off from serving as a soldier to visit his family in person. But explosions and invasions had ravaged his hometown, which didn’t allow him to spend a little more time with his family. As a responsible soldier, he returned to base unarmed and grabbed a rifle from a fellow soldier to fight off the Germans.

Major Omdel gave the order to lay down their weapons because he planned instead to blow up the Nordal bridge and therefore cut off German access to iron ore. They used Gunnar’s assistance to plant explosives on the Nordal Bridge, which functioned as a railroad crossing. He was nonetheless apprehended by the Germans following the explosion. His wife, Ingrid, and son, Ole, discovered Gunnar was being held captive as they were crossing the bridge. Though she harbored grudges against the Nazis, Ingrid was given the responsibility of working for the German counsel Wessow. She didn’t give up on her work, as it was her job, and all she wanted to do was keep her family safe and serve them. Given her fear and concern for her husband’s safety, she told Wessow that Gunnar was being held captive. She pleaded with the counsel to prevent her husband from being killed. Though it wasn’t a good choice, she believed the counsel would offer some help for her cooperation with the Germans. But she was mistaken. She was worried about preserving her nation’s independence, so she contributed to the cause by assisting the English diplomats in hiding in a cabin in the woods so they wouldn’t run into any Germans. She also obtained maps of German military positions at the request of the Englishmen and delivered it to them. She was caught between two hostile nations, and both demanded her submission in order to communicate with one another, but she did what she thought was right. She realized the value of life when an explosion ruined her house and killed her father-in-law, Aslak. Fortunately, she was able to rescue Ole, but a sharp piece of metal pierced his chest. Even though she supported the British or managed to persuade the Germans to trust her, her family was still vulnerable in the war’s carnage. She requested assistance from the German counsel as her son’s health deteriorated, but Wessow denied her any help. Given that she had no other option, she revealed where the Englishmen were. Wessow then assisted her in finding a doctor to treat her son’s wound.

People in Narvik started to despise Ingrid since she was now seen as a traitor. She didn’t pay any attention to them as she knew her service to the Englishmen would not have restored her son’s health. As a result, she did not choose sacrifice for the sake of patriotism. Her son was her everything, so sacrificing him for her country made no sense to her. She put being a mother first before being a patriot; therefore, her actions were all motivated by protecting her child. However, after the defeat of the Germans, Wessow asked her to accompany him to Berlin, but she declined because she wanted to stay with her family. She waited for her husband to arrive, hoping that at least he would understand her, but Wessow lied and told her that Gunnar Tofte had died, leaving all her hopes dashed in a matter of seconds. She was shaken, realizing that obeying the Germans had become futile. She refused to go with Wessow and made the decision to leave Narvik because their hometown had nothing left for her. She returned to the wreckage of her home and was startled to see Gunnar standing at the door. The French forces aided the Norwegians’ victory over the Germans. Even if their neutrality was transient, the Norwegians were able to remove the Nazi flag and declare themselves free, which may be considered the first defeat of Hitler.

During the war, Gunnar learned of his father’s death, and ever since, he couldn’t rest easy not knowing if his son was okay; thus, returning home after the war was an adrenaline rush for him. However, when he discovered that his family was safe, he had hoped to live in peace in the free land of Norway, but he was startled to learn that his wife had committed treason. He confronted Ingrid and demanded to know what had happened, but Ingrid wasn’t afraid to tell him the truth because she knew she had done what any mother was supposed to do. Knowing that his wife had sacrificed her loyalty to her country in order to protect her son, Gunnar was furious. He was willing to let his son die because he believed in sacrifice, but his bravery eventually dispersed. As the Germans arrived again and began to attack from the air, the soldiers assembled, and Omdel urged them to fight for what they held dear.

The Germans had developed weaponry and air missiles, leaving the Norwegians weak in their homeland. Gunnar couldn’t fight any longer in this situation, knowing defeat was inevitable. He couldn’t bear the thought of Ingrid raising her son alone, so he joined his family on the ferry. Ingrid’s handling of the Germans drew criticism from everyone in Narvik, but her husband Gunnar stood by her side because he knew that if he couldn’t understand his wife, who else would? They left Narvik to escape the tragedy of war because, at the end of the day, everyone is free to live their life as they see fit, and that is the significance of independence. Under patriotism and the laws of war, the death toll would rise, but Gunnar made the decision to value and preserve life. He didn’t want his son to grow up in a war-torn country; instead, he deserved a stable future, which Gunnar and Ingrid chose to provide him.


See more: ‘Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat’ Ending, Explained: Do Gunnar And Ingrid Survive The Battle To Save Narvik?


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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.
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