Is Netflix’s Narvik Based on a True Story?

Image Credit: Eirik Linder Aspelund / Nordisk Film

Netflix’s ‘Narvik’ follows the story of the Tofte family, whose lives are changed after Germany invades Narvik in 1940. Norway’s neutral position in the war is neutralized after the German forces attack it. The Norwegian army, along with the Allied powers, fights to regain control of the port city. In between this, the citizens of Narvik are caught in the crossfire. For Ingrid Tofte, the most important thing is the safety of her son, Ole, and she is ready to do whatever it takes to save him. Meanwhile, her husband fights for Norway’s freedom. Directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg, The film dubs the battle in Narvik as the first one that Hitler lost. If you are wondering how much truth there is to the story, then here’s what you should know.

How True is Narvik?

The events in Narvik are real, but the story is captured from the perspective of fictional characters. Written by Christopher Grøndahl, the film recreates the Battle of Narvik, where the Allied forces joined the Norwegian army to fight the Germans and push them back to Sweden. However, when it comes to the characters, the story is fictionalized, though it does capture the real experience of the people of Narvik, who were caught up in the brutal crossfire between the German and the Allied forces.

Image Credit: Eirik Linder Aspelund/Nordisk Film Distribusjon AS

Before the story begins, the title cards reveal the importance Narvik held for both warring factions. Iron ore was an incredibly important resource during the Second World War for various reasons, the most important being its usefulness in making weapons. Both the British and the Germans wanted to secure it for themselves because it would give them an upper hand in a war that had come to a critical point. The ore was transported from Kiruna, Sweden via Narvik, which made it an incredibly important location.

On April 9, 1940, the German forces broke the terms agreed upon in the neutral state of Norway and took control of Narvik. The Norwegian forces held their ground until reinforcement arrived in the form of British, French, and Polish armies. This was the first time that the four armies joined hands to fight a common enemy. They succeeded in driving out the Germans on May 28, 1940. This win was a huge boost in morale for the Allied powers and a first chink in the armor of German forces. However, Norway couldn’t celebrate it for too long.

As shown in the film, the British and French withdrew immediately after, redirecting their forces toward France, where things were getting heated. Due to this, the Norwegians were left vulnerable, and the Germans struck back. They inundated Narvik by bombing the entire town, and soon after, Norway surrendered to Germany on June 10, 1940, and was occupied until the end of the war in 1945.

Image Credit: Eirik Linder Aspelund / Nordisk Film

Reportedly, one of Norway’s most expensive films, ‘Narvik’ was created to remind the viewers of such battles, which do not receive as much attention as other battles fought during the Second World War. The filmmakers dedicated themselves to bringing this story forward and are said to have spent 77 million Norwegian kroner to make it. For producer Aage Aaberge, it took over three years to get the money to make the show. He wished to create a tv series showcasing the battles like the one in Narvik to explore the importance of such seemingly small victories in the bigger picture of war.

For the actors of the film, as well, it was very important to accurately portray the experience of the civilians who suddenly found the war on their doorstep. Actress Kristine Hartgen, who plays Ingrid Tofte, revealed that one of her grandmothers is from Narvik, and to understand the mental state of the people during that time, Hartgen had an in-depth conversation with her. “It was about understanding the way they looked at the world back then. How it must have been when the big international war machine comes to a small fishing town and a girl who has never been outside Northern Norway and has never seen such things,” Hartgen said. Similarly, the rest of the cast dedicated themselves to bringing their fictional characters alive on the screen. Considering this, we can say that even though it uses fiction to create the story, the film, overall, presents a very real series of events to the audience.

Read More: Where Was Netflix’s Narvik Filmed?