Sometimes, just for fun, I Google search WWII movies to watch. In doing so, I came across a film based on the true story of a Norwegian resistance fighter and decided to give it a go. It's called Max Manus: Man of War.
It’s one of those movies where you need to hug a pillow the entire time.
I know. It looks intense. That's because IT IS. But not in a "scar you for life" kinda way. It's more of a "empty chairs at empty tables" kinda movie. It's not rated since it's a foreign film, but my mom and I both agree that it would be a PG-13 rating in America. There's some swearing and (obviously) violence.
The story follows Max Manus and his friends as they form a resistance against the Nazi occupation in their country, Norway. They start with small acts of resistance such as printing newspapers.
We gathered in small groups around the country. We who refused to surrender. Who believed it was still possible to fight back.
Since it's based on a true story, I went and found the actual photos of Max and his friends!
Max Manus ....
Gunnar Sønsteby ...
Kolbein Lauring ...
Gregers Gram ... (White Rose friends, doesn't the pic on the left look like Willi Graf?!)
Edvard Tolloksen ...
We desperately wanted to fight. We were just waiting for someone to get it started.
Gregers: "Someone has to be the first."
Max: "That's the smartest thing I've heard since the invasion. Did you go to college or some nonsense like that?"
They were just young guys, and really had no idea what they were doing. They didn't think they'd get caught.
We became careless. I became careless. We were amateurs. I didn't worry about the consequences.
Max comes home one evening, and finds his apartment swarming with soldiers. He makes a desperate escape — he jumps through the second story window. He's seriously injured from the jump and is taken to a hospital with soldiers guarding his door. They want to question him, but the doctor makes excuses, claiming that Max's injuries are far more serious than they are and moving Max would kill him. The nurse helps him escape out the window where a car is waiting for him, and Max flees to Sweden. And this seriously happened in real life. WHAT?!
He reconnects with the Norwegian Military whom he fought with at the beginning of the war, and trains to become a saboteur.
Max's daring escape through the window got around the camp:
Max: "I'm Max Manus."
Captain Linge: "Manus who jumped out a window?"
Captain Linge: "Fantastic spirit!"
Gregers is an instructor at the training camp, and the friends reunite.
Gregers as he's climbing out the window and gets stuck: "I heard about your escape out a window. No, don't help me. How hard can this be? Ok, help me."
Captain Linge to Max when he arrives at the school: "The odds of survival are minimal. Everyone here is either crazy or stupid."
Colonel J.S. Wilson: Why do you want to be a saboteur, Max?
Max: My country was stolen from me, Sir... and I want it back.
Max returns to Norway to carry out acts of sabotage with his fellow resistance fighters. One of the acts they did was sneak into a Nazi navel yard and secure bombs on the ships. I was on the edge of my seat because they came this close to getting caught.
The guys rejoicing as the bombs went off the next morning.
Along with bombing naval yards, they also destroyed the Nazi's archives which contained the names of thousands of young men between the ages of 18-20 who were supposed to be sent to the Eastern Front to fight for Germany. He becomes the most wanted member of the Norwegian resistance.
This creep is determined to find Max Manus.
Max meets Greger's friend, Tikken, and starts to fall in love with her. But it's a messed up situation because she's married to a English diplomat but says she's not "really married" to him. I don't know what was going on there. Tikken divorces her husband after the war and marries Max. I didn't like the whole romance thing because TIKKEN! YOU'RE MARRIED! Ugh.
Max: "Are you laughing? I just poured my heart out."
Tikken: "I've never seen you so sentimental. Gregers said Gone With the Wind made you cry."
Max, casting a look at Gregers: "And I consider him a brother?!"
Then one by one, members of the resistance are either captured or killed. This part was so hard to watch.
Max, holding up a newspaper: "Three traitors killed."
Gregers, holding up a newspaper he's making: "Three fell for Norway. There are two sides to every story."
Max becomes greatly depressed and feels immense guilt as his friends die around him. Since he's the leader, he feels responsible for all of them. He takes a huge mission upon himself — bombing a major Nazi battle ship. He wants to do it alone so that no more of his boys die.
Umm ... they're not going for that. So Max relents.
They pose as electricians to get into the naval yard and they complete their mission. Another "edge of your seat" moment!
The end of the war finally comes, but Max doesn't feel like celebrating. Like I said, it's a "empty chairs at empty tables" kinda feel. His friends are gone. He feels alone and suffers from nerve and alcohol problems. He married Tikken in '47 and started an office supply company. According to the movie, he and Tikken had a good life. Max received numerous awards for his service.
It really makes you think — would you do it? Would you fight back if your country was taken from you? And what would have happened if resistance groups and individuals throughout Europe didn't fight back? They had so much courage.
And I'm throwing these pictures in here because IT'S THE REAL GUNNAR WITH THE GUY WHO PLAYS GUNNAR!
Ok, fangirl rant over. Sorry about that. Here's the trailer. You should watch it.
You can rent the movie for $1.99 on Amazon instant video HERE.
Have you ever seen Max Manus: Man of War?