World War II films are always a treasure trove of information. There are still stories from the war which have not yet been recreated on the screen to let people know that such an incident took place, which helped those who were fighting against the Axis forces. Be it from the Pacific side or Europe; all these stories are fascinating to see on screen. Narvik is one such tale of a town that was captured by the German army for the control of a critical resource that would help the German army to stay ahead of Allied forces. How will Norwegian forces save themselves from the onslaught? This is the tale of the battle of Narvik, which took place in the year 1940. Directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg, the film was released on the big screens in Norway on 25th December 2022 and is now streaming on Netflix.
Gunnar Tofte And The Tale Of His Family Living In Narvik
The film begins with the audience being told the history of the seaside town of Narvik and the importance it had during the Second World War. Norway, as a country, pledged neutrality when the war in Europe broke out between the Axis forces and the Allied forces. Keeping their neutrality in mind, Narvik, a sleepy town known for its abundance of iron ore, became the only supplier of the same to both Britain and Germany. Their dependence on the iron ore from Narvik became so huge that German and British warships carrying the iron ore would pass by each other without any hostility, and soon Narvik became a liability. A troop of Norwegian soldiers was sent to Narvik as a part of the neutrality force, and on the same day, their neutrality was violated. A group of Norwegian soldiers reaches Narvik to take control of guarding the town due to the fact that Narvik is a strategic town that is important for both the forces fighting against each other. A standing force would help both the fighting forces realize there would be no conflict in Norway.
As the forces reach Narvik, Gunnar asks for a day’s leave even though most of the troops that have landed have been told that their leaves are canceled. Gunnar is excused by his senior when he explains that it is his son’s birthday and he needs to meet him only for a few hours. Gunnar is granted his leave. His senior is an understanding man who realizes this is wartime, and Gunnar might not be able to see his child ever next time if ever things go south in Norway. Gunnar goes to meet his wife, Ingrid, who is working as a waitress and also an interpreter for the English diplomats who are in town to discuss the iron ore distribution with the German counterparts, who are in the same meeting as well. Ingrid and Gunnar are very much in love, and their son Ole is their source of happiness. As the couple works hard for a living, Ole is taken care of by Gunnar’s father. Ingrid and Gunnar spend enough time together, but he knows he has to head back to base as soon as possible. They end up spending a lot more time than allotted. Ingrid and Gunnar have met after a big gap, and surely they can’t keep their hands off each other. As Gunnar is headed back to his base camp, he notices Norwegian ships anchored on the coast bombed, and the navy ship sank, drowning plenty of Norwegian sailors. As the army from the base head towards the coast, including an unarmed Gunnar, they notice a German army surrounding them. Gunnar’s leader surrenders the army so that Germany can go ahead and proclaim the fact that Narvik is now under Nazi Germany. Gunnar and his mates are shocked to see their otherwise resilient boss giving up arms so that Germany can advance further and proclaim victory over England.
The town has woken up to the news of the German invasion of Narvik and the fact that SS officials are hunting for the English officials who were in town to discuss the matter of iron ore trade with Norway and Germany. Ingrid is still an employee of the hotel, and the administration at the hotel is instructed to go ahead as it is. The English team living in the hotel is helped by Ingrid to leave the hotel, and Ingrid, on the other hand, is also asked to help with translating German for Konsul Fritz Wussow. Ingrid hopes to be useful for the German team and wonders if she is doing the right thing by helping them, for her father-in-law is dead against helping the nazis.
‘Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat’ Ending Explained – Do Gunnar And Ingrid Survive The Battle To Save Narvik?
Gunnar’s battalion marches to head out of Narvik. Even though they are stopped by German armies, they are hell-bent on taking back Narvik from the German army at any cost. As they keep walking on the railway tracks, Gunnar’s commandant formulates a plan to blow up the bridge that helps bring the iron ore to the coast for transportation. Gunnar was aware of how the dynamite could be planted but is not aware of the location of the dynamite at present. Gunnar speaks to his father over the safe telephone and comes across the exact location of the dynamite. Meanwhile, the situation in town is getting worse, even though the German army is asking people to remain calm and not allowing any of them to leave the town at all. Germany is hoping to keep people in town so that they can gain some vital information from the townspeople. Ingrid and her son Ole are stopped from boarding any ship heading outside the town. Ingrid, though, wants to stay back with her son, but she is forced by her father-in-law is forced to leave town for their safety. Gunnar is informed of the train Ingrid and his son Ole have taken to head out of the city. As the dynamite is located and is all ready to be blown up, Gunnar notices some movements from the tunnel at the end of the track. Gunnar realizes it is the people from the train who were asked to deboard the train because they weren’t allowed to leave the town. All of them had walked to the point, and all were asked to cross the bridge quickly, for it would be bombed soon.
The battalion is looking forward to disrupting the German army’s plans, and bombing the bridge is their first step toward it. Gunnar and Ingrid are again happy to be reunited, but they don’t know if they will be separated again. The German army approaches the bridge, and they soon start firing at the Norwegian army but not before the Norwegians bomb the bridge. To everyone’s surprise, the bridge was only partially destroyed, which did not stop the Germans from advancing further. Gunnar is taken as a prisoner of war, and Ingrid, Ole, and her father-in-law are taken back as the Germans realize her translation work can be an asset. Ingrid becomes an interpreter between the German Konsul Wussow and the mayor of Narvik. The mayor is in no mood to help the Germans, and he is constantly worried about the welfare of his people. The mayor does not intend to cooperate with the Germans because he knows they are just capturing the town for their benefit and will turn the town to dust once all their work is over. The mayor asks pertinent questions and asks about why the town would need an army if the Germans are sure the English will not attack them. Ingrid understands the mayor’s predicament; meanwhile, her job is not to analyze politics but just be an interpreter.
Ingrid is approached by the Englishmen whom she rescued, and asked if she will be willing to help the English get rid of Germans from her country. The whole idea of the English consuls is to find out how the Germans plan to defend Narvik and what are the positions of the German army at present. Initially, Ingrid is not keen on helping them, but she is made aware of the fact that her help would mean Germans will be driven out of her country, which will benefit her and her son the most. This would mean her husband might come back as well, and he could rejoin his family. Ingrid agrees to the job and starts sending out information to the English using her post as the interpreter. Ingrid is not stopped or is not suspected by the Germans so far when their town is again bombed by the British in the hope to get rid of the Germans. In the ongoing attack, Ole survives only with minor injuries, but her father-in-law sadly goes down in the bombing.
Even with the English constantly bombing Narvik, Ingrid is happy about the fact her information is helping to rattle the German forces, for they did not expect the English to be attacking them the way they were. But slowly, the minor injuries on Ole fester to become a major issue. Ingrid at this point is desperate for help, and she asks Konsul Wussow to get her to any German doctors. Wussow is helpless at this point, but Ingrid offers to let him know about the Englishmen they have been hunting for since the day Germany attacked Narvik. Ingrid’s information helps Germany immensely in getting to know where the English are planning their further attacks. Ingrid had no other choice but to reveal the locations of the people to whom she was giving information. It is surprising to notice that the English did not implicate Ingrid, for she was the one who was leaking the German information. Ingrid is now under Konsul Wussow’s protection. Ingrid kept requesting Konsul Wussow if he knew of Gunnar’s whereabouts. Konsul Wussow is a man of power, and Ingrid thought of requesting him to save Gunnar’s life because he owed her for helping him with plenty of on-groundwork. Konsul Wussow is unable to help her initially, but later because she provided him intel on the Englishmen, he informs her that Gunnar died as per the POW list provided to Wussow. Ingrid is shattered, but she gathers herself for her son Ole.
Meanwhile, Gunnar and his mates are taken prisoner of war, and they are headed toward another bunker manned by the Germans. The Germans were furthermore attacked by the French forces and the remaining Norwegian forces, which got split up after the bombing of the bridge. Gunnar, his comrades, and his commandant, with the help of French forces, take over the crucial point on Narvik and proudly remove the Nazi German flag to raise the Norwegian flag. Gunnar is happy to have been reunited with his battalion. Though Gunnar is made aware of the fact that his father passed away during one of the bombings, but he is not sure if his child Ole survived the bombing too. Gunnar cannot wait to head back to his town Narvik and meet his family. They are welcomed back by all of the townspeople with love, but he cannot find Ole and Ingrid anywhere. Gunnar hopes for the welcome with all love and kisses from Ingrid, but not finding her anywhere puts him in an awful mindset. He keeps wondering if she, along with the rest of his family, died during the bombings. As he goes through the wreckage of his home, he finds Ingrid and Ole at the same place, in shock to see what has happened to this place they once called their home.
Gunnar and Ingrid are beyond happy to find each other happy and alive. They cannot believe destiny brought them together again after separation. Ingrid, though, informs Gunnar that Ole was badly injured, and to save him, she had given out critical information to the Germans who were then occupying Narvik. Gunnar, being an army man, was offended by the fact that Ingrid would indulge in such activities, especially with the war going on. Ingrid insists she did it to save her only son and that she would do it again if required. Ingrid had no choice but to choose her son over a war. She wasn’t aware if Gunnar would survive the war, and that’s why she chose her son over men battling at high altitudes. Ingrid believed if her son died, she would have no purpose to live as well. Gunnar does not understand any of this because he is an army man and decides to abandon her. Just as the German bombing begins, Gunnar is more furious at Ingrid, for he believes she is directly responsible for his people suffering. Ingrid decides to leave Narvik with her Ole to head north and stay there for a while. As she is headed toward the boat, which is rescuing a lot of civilians, Gunnar decides to join her too. He is apologetic for his behavior and understands her predicament in taking the step she took to save their son. As they head out of Narvik, one can see the town being bombed ruthlessly by the Luftwaffe. The battle for Narvik was finally won by the Norwegians, and this was the very first major defeat Hitler faced in the second world war, and thus began his downfall. The story of a woman and a man trying to survive the brutal war, which is kind to no one, is a tale that has never been shared before.
When one thinks of war films, one thinks of “Saving Private Ryan,” ” Schindler’s List,” and “Apocalypse Now.” These are some of the finest examples of Hollywood films that covered war and talked about how it affects human beings in general. All these films had an emotional connection that would make anyone shed a tear just to know the amount of trauma everyone associated with the war goes through. Unfortunately, “Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat” lacked the emotional connection I was seeking as a viewer. I am a sucker for World War II stories. Stories that move me, shock me and unravel me, but this film could not help me understand the pain Ingrid, as a mother, was going through and the trauma Gunnar was put through for the kind of onslaught he saw as an army man. The screenplay could have dealt deeper with how Germany was defeated, but the whole focus of the film became Gunnar, Ingrid, and their child Ole. I wish the writers had spent more time building up layers instead of making the story very black and white. “Narvik: Hitler’s First Defeat” would have been an interesting watch if there was any emotion the viewers felt with the characters.