7.5/10
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Nine Lives (1957)

Ni liv (original title)
The movie takes place during World War II and depicts the true story of Jan Baalsruds amazing escape from the German army from the coast of Northern Norway and across the border to the ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Fjeldstad ...
Jan Baalsrud
Henny Moan ...
Agnes
Alf Malland ...
Martin
Joachim Holst-Jensen ...
Bestefar
Lydia Opøien ...
Jordmoren
Edvard Drabløs ...
Skolelæreren
Sverre Hansen ...
Skomakeren
Rolf Søder ...
Sigurd Eskeland
Ottar Wicklund ...
Henrik
Olav Nordrå ...
Konrad
Alf Ramsøy ...
Ivar, kjelketrekker
Jens Bolling ...
Alfred, kjelketrekker
Per Bronken ...
Ole, kjelketrekker
Grete Nordrå ...
Stenografen
Lillebil Nordrum ...
Sykepleiersken
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Storyline

The movie takes place during World War II and depicts the true story of Jan Baalsruds amazing escape from the German army from the coast of Northern Norway and across the border to the neutral country Sweden. Jan Baalsrud is on a sabotage mission from England to Norway together with 11 other soldiers in the winter of 1943 in a fishing boat when they are attacked by a German patrolboat. Jan Baalsrud is the only one who manages to escape and sets off towards Sweden through the enormous amounts of snow and the steep mountains of Norway. The local communities where he passes through help him despite the danger of being arrested and killed. Jan Baalsrud, snowblind and having to cut off his toes because of frost-damage survives alone in the mountains for weeks. The locals are constantly trying to get him over to Sweden, but German patrols and the winter storms delay their departure. Written by Holger Lockertsen <holger@lockertsen.com>

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The Most Exciting True Escape Story Ever Filmed!


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3 October 1957 (Norway)  »

Also Known As:

Nine Lives  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 1991 Norwegian television-viewers voted this the best Norwegian movie ever made. See more »

Connections

Referenced in De reddet hans liv (1988) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Nine Lives: THE STORY OF JAN BAALSRUD (Arne Skouen, 1957) ***
17 February 2014 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

The first two Best Foreign Language Film Oscars ever awarded were both won by Italy, through Federico Fellini, for LA STRADA (1954; awarded in 1956) and NIGHTS OF CABIRIA (1957); the other nominees competing against the latter emanated from France (Rene' Clair's GATES OF Paris), two I plan on catching up with presently (from India, Mehboob's MOTHER India and, from Germany, Robert Siodmak's THE DEVIL STRIKES AT NIGHT) and, from Norway, the film under review. Incredibly enough, Ingmar Bergman's art-house phenomenon THE SEVENTH SEAL was unsuccessfully submitted for Oscar consideration! Incidentally, NINE LIVES was also entered in that year's Cannes Film Festival where it rubbed shoulders with (among others) Mikhail Kalatazov's eventual Palme D'Or winner THE CRANES ARE FLYING, Jacques Tati's MON ONCLE (1958) and prestigious Hollywood fare like THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV (1958) and THE LONG HOT SUMMER (1958).

While the film's title and heritage might suggest a historical chronicle of some tragic national expedition, the story actually deals with a real-life WWII manhunt for a Norwegian spy – engaged with the English forces on an obscure sabotage mission of which he is the only survivor – on his way to sanctuary in neutral Sweden. The film starts with the dispatching of Jan Baalsrud's ten comrades-in-arms during a skirmish with a German patrol boat. Soon enough, our protagonist is on the run from the Nazis while facing the harsh natural elements of the Norwegian snowscape. Despite the inherent danger to themselves, the local communities (especially a young family and an elderly schoolteacher) he comes in contact with all go out of their way to help the heroic fugitive. In fact, the title is a specific reference to Baalsrud's feline-like penchant for survival against all odds: going snowblind; hacking off his own frostbitten toes; being literally entombed in snow for several weeks, etc.

For the most part, the treatment is pretty matter-of-fact (and no less effective for that) with the only stylistic flourishes on display being the intermittent fast cutting whenever impending danger ensues, the repeated panning suggesting the upward direction of the flight and a striking ellipsis that goes from a man picking up the receiver to 'rat' on the hero and his comrades to a ship's cannon firing at their boat; however, there is also some confusion here as well: they are shown being shot at as they reach land – presumably in a flashforward – followed by them still out at sea! For the record, this might well be the first Norwegian film I have watched and, as far as I know, the only other one I own is the intriguing horror film LAKE OF THE DEAD (1958)...


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