Norwegian war film Narvik is currently hanging around the upper echelons of Netflix’s UK top ten chart, making it the streamer’s biggest movie success this month. It tells the story of a battle held in the titular, ore-rich Norwegian town in the spring of 1940.
A major source of iron ore, Narvik was an important target for Hitler’s armies during the Second World War and was the site of the Nazi’s first major defeat. The narrative is focused, for the most part, on the Tofte family, following a young corporal who returns home from the front to visit his wife and son.
The best military dramas depict real events with accuracy and respect. So how much of Narvik is based on real historical events? While the film’s backdrop is a very real part of Norway’s history, its key characters are intended to represent the countless ordinary Norwegian families caught up in the conflict. Whether that makes them fictional or non-fictional really depends on your outlook.
The film does include some characters we know were really involved in the battle, including Nazi General Eduard Dietl and the mayor of Narvik, Theodor Broch.
Many of the events depicted in the film are also based on real events: including the allies’ advance from the mountains and the British strategy of firing on the German targets from sea-bound warships. Narvik was first captured by Hitler’s army on April 9th, 1940. A two-month retaliation from Norwegian, British, French and Polish forces followed, leading to an Allied victory on May 28th.
The battle remains the largest land battle ever fought on Norwegian soil, and several shipwrecks destroyed during the battle can still be seen to this day.