DOGMAN, UTØYA - JULY 22, FOR­GET MY NAME, MRS HOLMES AND MORE

A PER­SPEC­TIVE ON THE HOR­RORS ON UTØYA

Real Crime - - Contents - An­ton Bi­tel

The lat­est crime film, mys­tery fic­tion and true tales re­viewed

RE­LEASED OUT NOW DI­REC­TOR ERIK POPPE DIS­TRIB­U­TOR MOD­ERN FILMS

On Fri­day 22 July 2011, right- wing ex­trem­ist An­ders Behring Breivik det­o­nated a van bomb out­side gov­ern­ment build­ings in Oslo, killing eight. He then dressed as a po­lice­man and shot dead 69 peo­ple at a Labour Party Youth League sum­mer camp on the is­land of Utøya.

Text at the be­gin­ning of Erik Poppe’s Utøya - July 22 plainly states most of this his­tory ( with more de­tail in clos­ing text), and real ar­chive footage shows the Oslo bomb­ing. On Utøya, though, the film’s rep­re­sen­ta­tional mode shifts rad­i­cally to one sin­u­ous, con­tin­u­ous take that con­fines un­fold­ing events to real time and to a ( mostly) sin­gle per­spec­tive on the ground. “You’ll never un­der­stand,” says Kaja ( An­drea Berntzen) as she en­ters the frame at the start, look­ing into the cam­era ( and there­fore right at us). “That’s why it’s im­por­tant we’re here.”

She is in fact speak­ing to her mother on a mo­bile phone about the Oslo bomb­ing, but those words also serve as a di­rect ad­dress: a re­quest for em­pa­thy from the viewer, and a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the film’s im­por­tance, and even its ex­is­tence.

Per­haps such jus­ti­fi­ca­tion is re­quired, be­cause we al­ready know, in cold sta­tis­ti­cal terms, what will hap­pen next, and see­ing Kaja’s or­deal now pack­aged as in­tense hand­held hide- and- seek hor­ror, view­ers might find them­selves dis­com­fited by the dis­tinct whiff of ex­ploita­tion and in­sen­si­tiv­ity hang­ing in the air. This is a prob­lem for any film­maker deal­ing with real, re­cent crime – yet there are de­grees of ex­ploita­tion. At one ex­treme is Vi­taliy Ver­sace’s Utoya Is­land ( 2012), a cheap, ugly cash- in made less than a year af­ter the mas­sacre, and an ob­ject les­son in how not to re­spect the dead or their sur­viv­ing friends and fam­ily. In 2018 there have been three films deal­ing with the events at Utøya. Paul Green­grass’ 22 July traces Breivik’s out­rages and sub­se­quent trial, but as­sid­u­ously ba­nalises him, while off­set­ting his story with that of a re­cov­er­ing sur­vivor. Carl Javér’s doc­u­men­tary Re­con­struct­ing Utøya al­lows four sur­vivors to re­trace their har­row­ing steps. Sim­i­larly Poppe’s film – much like Keith Mait­land’s ro­to­scoped Tower ( 2016), about the 1966 shoot­ings at the Univer­sity of Texas in Austin – fo­cuses on re­cov­er­ing both the ex­pe­ri­ence and per­son­hood of the in­ci­dent’s vic­tims. It re­duces the per­pe­tra­tor him­self, whom it never even names, to a barely glimpsed shadow on the pe­riph­ery.

Kaja’s des­per­ate dash across the is­land in search of her younger sis­ter Em­i­lie ( Elli Rhi­an­non Müller Os­bourne) may come with in­her­ent ( and in this con­text, un­easy) thrills, but along the way we see a promis­ing, re­spon­si­ble, de­cent young woman whose life is ar­bi­trar­ily threat­ened by the most toxic brand of re­gres­sive mas­culin­ity. On this real yet al­le­gor­i­cal is­land, the per­sonal and the po­lit­i­cal clash, along with a na­tion’s in­no­cence, is de­stroyed.

IF YOU LIKE THIS TRY...Vic­to­ria Se­bas­tian Schip­per Shot in a sin­gle take, a young Span­ish woman, tem­po­rar­ily res­i­dent in Ber­lin, be­comes em­broiled in a bank heist.

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