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While we Swedes have too endure boring drama films and drama films that
pretends to be comedies it's always fun when something unusual pops up.
Gränsen or Beyond the Border is one of these films. It follows a
realistic and very possible concept of bored Swedish soldiers wanting
to see some action and sneaks over the border to Nazi-occupied Norway.
For those who don't know, Sweden was one of the few unoccupied democracies left i Europe and everybody where expecting Germany to attack any minute. A couple of fresh recruits skies across the border and stumbles into the execution of a Norwegian rebel. In panic they open fire at the Nazi's and are captured.
One of the soldier's brother goes after him along with the stereotypical finish madman/bad-ass and two other Swedish soldiers. A Swedish colonel who is responsible for the soldiers send two marksmen after them to clean it up so he won't be held responsible.
There is a lot of heavy war violence, mostly hand to hand combat that end up in gory stabbings. It's in no way tame and one is very disturbing to see. There are some brief shootouts, the budget won't allow more thus we got stabbings instead. We are also treated with some very suspenseful scenes where our Swedish heroes tries to not be seen by the Nazis.
The end shootout is probably the coolest in a Swedish film and it ends with one of the most haunting, beautiful and horrific images ever put in a Swedish film. It's also interesting to note that the good guys in the end are made up of one Swede, one Finne and and one Norwegian. At some points in history these nations have been one and the same and now they team up against the Nazis. It's a pretty fun little trivia if you know your history.
In the end, Gränsen is a very entertaining Swedish film, I it's not too special from other war films save for that haunting image I mentioned but is worth checking out. More Swedish films like this please.
If you're anticipating an all-out heroic war movie with lots of
gunfire, Gränsen will let you down. This movie is in no way intended to
be just that. Instead it focuses a lot more on the war-mentality and
the will to cross boundaries (both literally and figuratively
While some reviewers found the behavior displayed by some of the Swedish soldiers questionable, they should stop and think about how they would act in war times. Keep in mind, Swedish soldiers were not expecting a fight after Nazi-Germany left them alone and focused on conquering Russia. Crossing a border (the Norwegian one) suddenly shoves reality into their faces, and a cruel one at that.
Yes, there might have been some typecasting going on. German captains are sadists with round glasses. The Finnish soldier is the bad-ass, and most Swedes easily startled. But other than that this film poses an important question. Not just a historical one for Swedes to reflect upon, but also for present-day viewers: can you cross the border and give up neutrality if you might have to pay for it with your life?
I wish I had read some review of this movie before I bought it on
Blu-ray. Boy, what a waste of good money!
As a previous reviewer stated, I really was looking forward to a Swedish war movie. Perhaps the first of its kind to be made. As a Swede who have only heard my dad speak vaguely about what it was like to live in Sweden during the German occupation of Norway, I was looking for some portrayal of what it was like. As well as some good old-fashioned action of course!
However, I can only agree with previous reviewer that the characters acted so amateurishly and so unconvincingly stupid that I ended up swearing to myself during the whole movie. They must have slept right through their entire basic training. A seven-year-old who had played any computer war game would have picked them off one by one.
As an example: Who would be stupid enough, when pursued by German patrols in a foreign, occupied country, to light a fire in a cabin's fireplace and a number of kerosene lamps without shading the windows? Not posting any guard outside to warn of approaching enemy soldiers or even having their firearms within easy reach? They don't event seem vigilant but seem to be writing postcards. One guy even goes to the privy without his gun or helmet.
At the end, I almost stood up and applauded when a Swede got shot. I know it sounds horrible to say, but boy, these guys sure had it coming for being so unforgivably stupid as to put the whole country to shame. I hope nobody outside the country watches this or we will be the laughing-stock of the planet for years to come.
Coming from not only a nation (Norway) which has a lot of heroes
connected to the second world war, but also a world re-known town from
where some world famous saboteurs came from (Rjukan)h, it's interesting
to see a movie from the Swedish side.
They were equally young to the Swedes here, those local schoolboys and students which later one became famous as saboteurs. You saw some of them in the films Max Manus and The Heavy Water Sabotage. I personally got to know a couple of them, amongst them Gunnar "Kjakan" Sønstsbø, which was Norways most decorated war heroes, and a main person in the spiderweb of sabotage actions which made the war difficult for the occupiers during the war. And my father very secretly brought food up to saboteurs hiding in the mountains, waiting for the right time to hit. This was so secret that I didn't get to know this until many years after his death, by strangers which knew my dad.
Sweden has been a peaceful nation, and their neutrality during the WW2 is well known, but we've heard very little on their war history. This film tells a bit about the nervousness the Swedes felt even though they chose not to take sides during the war. Norway wasn't at all ready to fight against the German war machine, nor where the Danes or most other nation attacked and occupied during the war. Still there sprung heroes out of the war. They started off as young and stupid, but still with some courage and luck, which in some years made them both experienced and later on heroes.
This movie shows how naive the Swedes where, when they went from peaceful Sweden into wartime Norway on silly missions. They weren't at all prepared for what they met. Many Nowegian soldiers died the same way, without becoming either known or heroes. This film could as much as being about Swedes have been about Nowegians, or Finns. We get to see the experienced Finn in action here. He had learned how fights were won during the Finnish winter war. Therefore he was better able to deal with the horrors of war.
Though this film had some troubles establishing our sympathy for the characters in the first hour, it manages to do so in the last hour, when the severeness has caught both them and us as viewers.
This war film is more about the traumas of war than about the war. I found the film fascinating for more tan one reason. I also found he film honest and no extra hero bullshit, just plain true and raw realism. That there's a drama at the end I found refreshing. It was actions like that which made the war hell for Germans in Norway. Impossible to know where and when they would occur, but many felt obliged to do what they could to make it difficult for the occupiers.
A review here thought the Germans where cliché fully horrible here, but torture and nastiness was no stranger to the occupiers. This was how they got to know about hideouts and saboteurs. This was a very real war.
A good movie, which could have had a better start than it did.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's rare to see a serious Swedish war movie, in part due to the lack
modern time battles involving the country. In the second world war the
country was officially neutral cornered by conflict on all sides. This
movie is about a few Swedish soldiers protecting the border against
Nazi occupied Norway. A local major decides to be a bit proactive
before the, as he sees it, the inevitable German invasion and sends his
border patrol in to Norwegian territory for recognizance and sabotage.
The major's main guy is lieutenant Stenström who performs well. But
when Stenström's brother carelessly crosses the border and gets
captured by the sadistic Nazi captain, it gets personal. Stenström
recruits his friend Järvinen, a veteran and legend from the Finnish
Winter War, and goes deep into enemy territory to free his brother.
I rarely like Swedish movies. Mainly it is because they always seem to aim at being everything, covering every genre, and doing too much with limited resources. But Gränsen is different. It is satisfied with being a war movie, and for its purpose, the resources is covering it well. Actually I am surprised with the approach to action and fighting. It is far too easy to overdo it, but Gränsen balances it very nice (even though there are some questions). There is no humongous battles, or Rambo-like gun fights, but it feels much more realistic and plausible with fighting on a much smaller scale.
The story is good as well, even though at two hours it is stretching the material pretty thin. Some scenes or subplots that aren't followed up later, or helps the main plot much, should have been cut. Some of the dialog is a little stiff and a few characters a little annoying. None the less, I liked it. Every movie (with extremely rare exceptions) have faults, and Gränsens' is rather minor. They are easy to forgive.
Gränsen is a good, entertaining war movie. It was much better than I expected, especially considering the lack of experience doing movies like this in Sweden. If you like a good war movie, you might want to check this out.
During WWII Sweden was in a difficult position. Blockaded by Germany
but also sympathetic to the plight of its neighbours in Norway and
This film in a modest way delves into the Sweden's role in the war with a tale of Swedish soldiers crossing the border to recover their people who have been captured on German controlled, Norwegian soil.
This is ultimately an action film but it also touches on conflicting attitudes on the part of Swedes towards the war. Some want to stay neutral, others take action against Germany, some even support the Germans as the lesser of two evils; Nazism vs Communism.
Beyond the Boarder does a good job of showing the impact of war on Swedish soldiers who, for the most part, have little or no combat experience. It contrasts their initial naive enthusiasm for joining the conflict and their dawning understanding of the harsh realities of war.
In most respects this is a decent film, its competently directed, acted and utilizes good sets and backdrops. That said, I did feel, at times, the story was a little disjointed and the character development somewhat limited.
Nonetheless, this film is a mostly worthwhile watch and a refreshing departure from the standard fare that comes out of the US/UK. Seven out of ten from me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You can tell that Sweden has not been at war for 200+ years. All the
Swedish soldiers are wimps that have to show how scared they are at all
times. It gets rather tedious. The only real hero is a Finnish origin
soldier that had killed 100+ Russians. He is the only old-fashioned
hero. All the Germans seem to be sadists. Another cliché. In contrast,
we have the Swedish soldiers discussing about Hitler's plan for the
Jews. Come on; some countryside 18 year olds in 1942 talking about the
Jews? Not realistic. That so much playing to a modern audience as
opposed to remaining somewhat authentic. The film also plays to a
modern audience by having a soldier pet his pregnant girlfriend's
tummy. Sweden is a small country so it is important to get the female
audience as well.
I would not recommend this film. Instead watch the Danish Flame And Citron or the Norwegian Max Manus. These countries where attacked during WW2 and their soldiers show a much more aggressive demeanor. Their heroes are allowed to be good. They have meaningful tasks to accomplish. These two films has a strong narrative that pushes the films forward. The Swedish film pretty much lacks a narrative, except a big rather meaningless shoot-out in the end of the film (another conventional trick). I get the feeling that the director wants to show the horrors of war. The Swedes had a chance to make a traditional action movie, but blew it totally.
I wanted to like this movie, but I just can't. The poor script, the
editing and the direction just destroys any possible enjoyment of this
The premise of the movie - a WWII border incident between neutral Sweden and the by Germany occupied Norway - is credible. The winter setting could make for some good cinematography.
However, scene after scene is utterly ridiculous. Again and again characters behave like complete idiots without explanation. The behavior is so utterly improbable and stupid that it is impossible to take the movie seriously.
Additionally, many characters suffer from tired clichés (all German captains are of course pale psychopaths who torture people for no reason and smoke cigars with which they burn their victims). Lastly, both the editing and the direction leaves much to be desired. Scenes are not set up properly. Action scenes look ridiculous with characters appearing from nowhere etc. Many scenes are missing, adding to the sense of incredibility.
There is no wonder that the script is bad: it was written by the lead actor who, as it seems, has never written anything for the screen previously.
Avoid this movie and see something else.
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