Hoping for ”Max Manus” potential

With big international names as well as a classic theme of brotherhood in war, Petter Næss hopes to reach a large audience.

Director Petter Næss is one of Norway’s most active directors with eight feature films in just over ten years.

This time, he has partnered up with Zentropa International to make a blockbuster film.

“Into the White” is a different kind of war story, told from a different angle than the one we’ve been used to. We wanted to dig out the people underneath the uniforms, he says to NTB.

Producer Peter Aalbæk Jensen says that Zentropa are happy to have Petter Næss on board: – What I like about “Into the White” is that there are no heroes, but no bad guys either. Here we have something as rare as a war film focusing on people.

- Refreshing role
“Into the White” is inspired by true events. In 1940 a violent battle occurred high above the Norwegian mountains. A British and a German plane shot each other down and three German and two British pilots survived the crash landing. The two parties discover the same hunting cabin during a blizzard. The film explores how the five experienced that encounter. We see how the war continues for a while inside the walls of the cabin, until the truth catches up to them: If they don’t work together, they will not survive.

One of the Brits is played by Rupert Grint, well known from the Harry Potter films. He plays the temperamental Robert Smith, and he does not recognize himself in the role: – No, I’m probably a lot more calm and kind, he smiles. And answers questions from the room about why he wanted to do a Norwegian film.

- It was simply refreshing to play a character with so much angry energy.

With him on “the British team” Grint has Lachlan Nieboer, known from the major BBC initiative “Downtown Abbey” among other things. In “Into the White” he plays the upper-class guy and Captain Charles P. Davenport.

In the German roles we meet the experienced German actor Florian Lukas and the younger David Kross – who can currently be seen in Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse”. We find Norwegian Stig Henrik Hoff as the German Sergeant Wolfgang Strunk.

- A great script
Hoff plays the silent strong man – who turns out to have something of an artist’s soul.

- The weather was the greatest challenge, it kept changing all the time. We were under time constraints, but Petter Næss got it all in the box. We also had an amazing script, Hoff adds.

Næss would like to talk about the fact that the film actually has a lot of humor.

- It’s a classic setup, with brutality and war as a starting point. But amid all this seriousness there is also an irony of fate. They’ve shot each other down and it becomes a little bit absurd during this fumbling first meeting. They have to reorient themselves all over again, not just geographically but also on a human level.

Næss thinks he was able to play a little with the male role.

- Men are almost comically vain. Give them a uniform and they start to act like bucks with showing off their antlers.

- Friendship
Later in the film a friendship arises between the two camps. And the true story that inspired the film also grew out of a lasting sympathy between the German Lieutenant and the British Captain. When the war had ended, the British Captain invited his former enemy to London, and it was a powerful meeting if we are to believe the filmmakers.

Næss also talks about strong emotions when Norwegian war veterans were given a preview of the film before the Norwegian premiere.

- There was a lot of warm handshakes and tearful eyes. I had a feeling that we have a kind of “Max Manus” potential here.

Stig Henrik Hoff says on his side:

- The film hits us because it speaks about how easy it is to be wiser after the event. The truth is that none of us know how we would react if we were stuck in a desolate cabin with the enemy – while a blizzard rages outside.

Translation by Malene.


Original article found here: oa.no | March 5, 2012

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