‘An­ders Breivik’s world view is spread­ing’

Rob­bie Collin

The Daily Telegraph - Review - - EXHIBITIONS -

Thor­b­jørn Harr was hold­ing his one-day-old daugh­ter when the wounded be­gan to ar­rive. The Nor­we­gian ac­tor and his wife were in the ma­ter­nity ward at Oslo Univer­sity Hospi­tal, hav­ing be­come par­ents for the third time on Thurs­day July 21 2011. The fol­low­ing evening, they no­ticed a com­mo­tion out­side – he­li­copters com­ing in to land, one after the other, and ca­su­al­ties be­ing hur­riedly stretchered in­side. These were the teenage vic­tims of An­ders Behring Breivik, the far-Right ter­ror­ist who had opened fire at a sum­mer camp on the is­land of Utøya ear­lier that day, after det­o­nat­ing a car bomb in Oslo’s po­lit­i­cal quar­ter. A to­tal of 77 peo­ple were killed in the at­tacks; more than 300 oth­ers were in­jured. “We were there with a new life while other kids’ lives were end­ing,” Harr re­calls. “But a lot of Nor­we­gians have sto­ries like that.” In fact, a na­tion­wide poll found that one in four of the coun­try’s five mil­lion in­hab­i­tants per­son­ally knew some­one who had been af­fected by the at­tacks. “It left a deep scar in Nor­way,” Harr goes on. “But what hap­pened was not a re­sult of uniquely Nor­we­gian prob­lems. That’s why this story should be told to the world.”

Seven years later, Harr is help­ing to do just that. He is one of the cast mem­bers of 22 July, a new film from Paul Green­grass that recre­ates Breivik’s at­tacks, the sub­se­quent res­cue ef­fort, and Nor­way’s long and ar­du­ous na­tional com­ing-to-terms. The 63-year-old di­rec­tor de­scribes the film as “Nor­way’s fight for her democ­racy,” in which home-grown ex­trem­ism was coun­tered with an unswerv­ing ded­i­ca­tion to demo­cratic due process. (Breivik was even­tu­ally found sane and guilty by the Oslo Dis­trict Court, and is cur­rently serv­ing a 21-year sen­tence.) Be­fore­hand, the idea that a 32-year-old mid­dle-class subur­ban­ite raised in the tra­di­tion­ally lib­eral Scan­di­na­vian na­tion could be ca­pa­ble of such a crime had been un­think­able among the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of Breivik’s coun­try­men. Hence the ti­tle of the non­fic­tion book by Åsne Seier­stad from which the film was adapted: One of Us.

I meet Green­grass and his cast in Venice, shortly be­fore the pre­miere of 22 July at the city’s film fes­ti­val. Dur­ing con­ver­sa­tion it comes out that the one-in-four ra­tio holds ex­actly for the ac­tors present: Seda Witt was Face­book friends with the young woman she por­trays, a sur­vivor who lost her older sis­ter in the Utøya shoot­ing, while the char­ac­ter played by

Young­sters run for cover in July 22 by Paul Green­grass, be­low

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