Narvik: Hitler's First Defeat, also written simply as Narvik, premiered on Netflix on January 23, 2023. Based on real events and a historical war that took place in Norway during Hitler's rule, this film by Erik Skjoldbjaerg centers on the first battle in which Hitler's dominant army suffered defeat. The film stars Kristine Hartgen, Carl Martin Eggesbø, and Henrik Mestad in the leading roles.
Originally titled Kampen Om Narvik – Hitlers Første Nederlag, the war history followed a particular soldier and his family to depict war-torn Norway amid a dominant German invasion. Although the film aimed to be realistic and composed, the director fell short in his execution by neglecting to place equal emphasis on the film's characters and plot, leaving the audience without the emotional investment that elevates even the most average war film to something truly memorable.
The plot for the film reads:
"April 1940. The eyes of the world are on Narvik, a small town in northern Norway, source of the iron ore needed for Hiter's war machinery. Through two months of fierce winter warfare, Hitler is dealt his first defeat."
Read on for a detailed review of Narvik: Hitler's First Defeat.
Narvik: Hitler's First Defeat review- No soul, too many plotlines, and an overall lack of conviction
While the film's story is heart-wrenching, this Erik Skjoldbjærg directorial simply failed to establish whatever it set out to achieve. This lack of conviction was quite evident from the very start of the film. The first few minutes of the film were well worth the hype as the film created a powerful atmosphere with the use of archival footage and resonating musical scores.
But as the film moved into its first act in full swing, everything began to fall apart as the plot and character stories became too convoluted and made no sense anymore. The film's war scenes were also disappointing, especially given that it clearly did not have a shoestring budget.
While the storyline is intriguing because of its real premise, the characters don’t seem to add much to the story. This was especially true for Gunnar's wife, whose life was depicted in an attempt to show how the common people of Norway were treated during the war. Of course, this is sad to witness, but it is not especially relevant when it comes to the film's story.
Narvik: Hitler's First Defeat is not bad throughout. It has some really stellar cinematography and picturesque locations that add to the charm. The cinematography also managed to undertake some daring measures, making it one of the aspects that stood out in the film.
While the production design of the film was satisfactory, it is far from a good war film. Even if Narvik: Hitler's First Defeat manages to gather its share of the audience, especially locals from the region and the country, it will be too optimistic to think that it will rank in with war films like Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now.
Narvik: Hitler's First Defeat is currently streaming on Netflix.