Cinema has a unique capacity to immerse the spectator in radical environments like no other art form can, especially when it comes to treating contemporary history. In the last decade, terrorist attacks and shootings have paralysed Europe with the threat of danger that can strike anywhere and anytime. Director Erik Poppe dares to dive deep into the fresh wound of the Anders Breivik massacre and offers an absolutely gripping insight in Utøya 22. Juli. This singular masterpiece demonstrates the power cinema can have to articulate the ineffable.
Erik Poppe, Norway 2018
Language: Norwegian, subtitles: English
The film consists of one single camera shot on the island of Utøya where the kids are camping, and begins shortly after Breivik detonates a bomb in a government building in Oslo, killing eight people. The kids are spooked by the news, trying to figure out if it’s Al Qaeda or a gas explosion but their speculation is interrupted by the eruption of violence that will engulf them. The plot follows 19-year-old Kaja who desperately searches for her sister and a way off the island. The first-person camera scurries with her, adopting the point-of-view of another, mute, victim. When she seeks shelter from danger, face in the mud, the camera is right in the dirt with her, paralysed with fear.
The action lasts 72 minutes because that’s how long it took for the authorities to respond.
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