On July 22, 2011, less than two hours after detonating a deadly car-bomb, and having already killed eight people in Oslo, the remorseless Norwegian far-right terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik, boarded the ferry MS Thorbjørn in Lake Tyri. As the shocking news of the devastating Oslo explosion was starting to reach the ears of the unsuspecting teenagers of the Workers' Youth League summer camp on the remote island of Utøya, the loud, sharp, and blood-curdling sound of Anders' first gunshots could only mean one thing: death. Now, for the next long and nightmarish seventy minutes, eighteen-year-old Kaja, her younger sister, Emilie, and approximately six-hundred young participants will find themselves drawn into a violent maelstrom of destruction, as Breivik, with cold-blooded precision, injures hundreds, and kills sixty-nine boys and girls. Will the world ever forget July 22, 2011, and the atrocious Utøya massacre?Written by
I'd already watched Paul Greengrass' film 22 July. Despite Utoya July 22 being about the same atrocity, you could not get 2 different films. Whilst Greengrass gave Brevik a platform and invited viewers to try and comprehend his actions, perhaps in an attempt to learn and move on, Erik Poppe's Utoya instead focuses entirely on the victims - the young Labour Party members camping on the island. In a poignant start to the film, the main lead, Kaja, looks directly into the camera and says "you'll never understand" (it turns out she's talking to her mum on the phone).
There is some debate as to whether either of these films should've been made at all. As harrowing as they are, I think they both have their place in trying to enhance our understanding of the horror of terrorist attacks such as these.
In a very clever piece of technical direction, it looks like the film is shot 'live' in one single take to mirror the horror of the 72 minutes of the young people's terrifying ordeal, whilst Brevik was attacking them.
Did I enjoy the film? No. Am I pleased I watched it? Yes. Would I recommend it? Most certainly. Does it, along with Greengrass' July 22, enhance our understanding? The jury's out. 7 out of ten
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