Operation Napoleon: Is There a True Story Behind Kristin’s Thrilling Journey?

Image Credit: Oskar Thor Axelsson

Untold secrets and conspiracy theories have an allure of their own, which is why they have been the driving force behind several captivating stories in film and literature. The idea that there are mysterious events lurking beneath the surface of reality leads to enigmatic narratives. ‘Operation Napoleon,’ or ‘Napóleonsskjölin,’ takes you into the world of conspiracy that spans from modern-day Iceland to Nazi Germany, World War II, and even the CIA. Directed by Óskar Þór Axelsson, the thriller film follows the story of a young Icelandic lawyer, Kristin, who receives footage of an old plane wreck from World War II and ends up entangled in an international web of secrets.

The discovery sets off a chain of reactions that causes her to go face-to-face with ruthless criminals, CIA officials, and assassins. When it comes to such tales where certain elements are based on real life, the question that often arises is whether they are simply products of imagination or grounded in historical reality. We dug deeper to find the truth behind the origins of ‘Operation Napoleon’. Let’s see if this film is rooted in reality.

Operation Napoleon is Based on a Novel

‘Operation Napoleon’ is not a true story. The film is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Icelandic crime author Arnaldur Indriðason, and is driven by a compelling script developed for the screen by Marteinn Þórisson. To ensure the authenticity of the film, Óskar Þór Axelsson asked the author of the original novel for his approval of his vision and invited him to the set to ensure that his opinion was brought to the table. Arnaldur Indriðason’s unique writing style blends real-life events with his creative genius and creates thrilling stories. For instance, his ‘Detective Erlendur series’ tells the tales of the criminal world in Iceland inspired by the real social and political history of the country.

However, ‘Operation Napoleon’ treads a different path and introduces the element of speculative fiction and alternate history. The director, Óskar Þór Axelsson, known for his work in Black’s Game (2012) and I Remember You (2017), had an old relationship with the novel, which encouraged him to take it on for its screen adaptation. In an interview with Kids First!, he talked about how the film came into being, stating, “When I read the book the first time, I wanted to take it to the big screen. But then some company got the right for it. Fast forward twenty years, a new production company got the rights and it was in development for a few years when they reached out to me and I couldn’t say no.”

Óskar Þór Axelsson brought an international cast together, including Vivian Ólafsdóttir who plays Kristin, Game of Thrones fame Iain Glen, German star Wotan Wilke Möhring, Jack Fox, Atli Óskar Fjalarsson, Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson, Anette Badland, Höskuldur Þór Jónsson, Birna Rún Eiríksdóttir, Hjörtur Jóhann Jónsson, Adesuwa Oni, and Nanna Kristín Magnúsdóttir. The goal of the movie is not to provide an accurate historical account but to deliver an exciting cinematic experience for the audience. It embraces the common thriller genre’s tropes, with unexpected twists, danger, deception, and betrayal.

For a more realistic portrayal, the movie was shot in real locations in Iceland and Germany. From what Óskar Þór Axelsson told Cherry The Geek TV, this approach wasn’t short of its struggles. He mentioned, “Shooting at the locations was a nightmare. Even if you are staying in a hotel nearby, the walk to set took 2 hrs and then 2 hrs back. So that is about 4 hrs spent just traveling. And you never know about the weather.” However, all that hard work eventually paid off as the film, with its breathtaking locale, manages to keep the audience engaged with suspense and intrigue.

‘Operation Napoleon’ harnesses real-world events to create a suspenseful and thrilling narrative that leaves the audience wondering about its accuracy. Even though it is not based on a true story, it employs historical touchpoints, such as the presence of the CIA, the tension between former adversaries, and of course, World War II, to give the story a veneer of plausibility. However, as the story progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that the film is not about historical veracity but a source of entertainment. The actions, twists in the plots, and climatic revelations are a part of imaginative storytelling in a historical backdrop.

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