Anders Danielsen Lie, the Norwegian actor who portrays mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik in the lastest film about Breivik’s terrorist attacks in 2011, had some clear thoughts on why he accepted the role. Lie thinks it would be wrong to ignore Breivik and refuse to discuss what he did on the island of Utøya seven years ago.
“It’s important to tell this story, again and again,” Lie told reporters when the new film, titled simply 22 July, was first shown on Wednesday.The film, written and directed by Paul Greengrass, had its premiere at an international film festival in Venice.
Lie, who called the film “a local story with a global message,” said that in order to understand radicalization and right-wing extremism, and how a young, white middle-class man could become a terrorist who murdered 77 people in the space of a few hours, it’s important to portray him. “Many people out there still share Breivik’s ideas,” Lie said. “It’s important we talk about this, that it doesn’t become taboo.”
Norwegian filmmaker Erik Poppe took another view in his own film about the massacre on the island of Utøya on July 22, 2011. Only blurry images of Breivik were shown, with Poppe’s film concentrating on the terror itself and how the gunman’s targets desperately tried to save their lives and those of others around them.
Trailer upset many
Lie thinks it was “completely necessary” to portray Breivik, who has a central role in the film that will be available on Netflix next month. It remains unclear whether it will be shown in Norwegian cinemas. The various films and series coming out about the terrorist attacks in 2011 have sparked great debate in Norway, with many feeling they’re simply coming too soon.
The Norwegian Labour Party’s youth organization AUF, which was the main target of Breivik’s attacks, was reacting negatively once again on Wednesday. AUF leader Mani Hussaini told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that several members were upset about Netflix’ trailer for the film, which was released this week.
“Many are uncertain about whether the film will portray the day and what followed it correctly,” Hussaini told NRK. “I know that some people are reacting that there’s very much an ‘action’ theme in the trailer.” Even though AUF cooperated with Greengrass while the film was in production, concerns were rising that the tone of the trailer may not bode well for the film itself.
Lisbeth Røyneland, whose daughter was shot and killed by Breivik on Utøya, leads the national support group for survivors and victims’ families. She also told NRK that she’d received some worried response, and messages that many survivors won’t want to see the film.
Hussaini said that AUF realizes Greengrass, who’s best known for his Jason Bourne action films, probably has made the “most brutal” version of the July 22 films. Greengrass himself claimed on Wednesday that his film was made for the survivors, for the families of the victims and for society. “But it’s also about the battle Norway had to take democracy back,” Greengrass said, with NRK reporting that his remark was met with applause.
He said he wants to send a message in the films he makes: “I think we have a challenging time ahead of us with populism, nationalism and right-wing extremism … I have tried to portay that through 22 July, that we must not forget that these ideas still exist.”
His film is based on the book En av oss (One of us) by Norwegian author Åsne Seierstad. “Breivik is one of us,” Seierstad said. “I think that comes through well in the film.”