Norway Cinematography – From the 1960s to the Beginning of the 21st Century

By | December 17, 2021

The French New Wave profoundly influenced the young generation of Norwegian filmmakers who, in the 1960s, distanced themselves from Hollywood models to try new paths; their debut was facilitated by the government which in 1964 initiated a policy of financial loans for the making of films whose scripts had been deemed worthy by a commission of experts. Pål Løkkeberg was deeply impressed by the work of Jean-Luc Godard and paid him an explicit homage with his two films Liv (1967) and Exit (1970), then abandoning the cinema to return to the theater. Lasse Henriksen, for his part, in 1971 won a Silver Bear for photography at the Berlin Film Festival with Love is war (1970), a work shot partly on video and partly with infrared film. The master of experimentation was above all Erik Løchen who, after the dazzling Jakten (1959, The Hunt), created in 1972 Motforestilling (Remonstrance), a metafilm constructed in such a way that its parts could be edited in one hundred and twenty different ways. cinema was often used as a political and social protest tool: Streik had great importance! (1975, Sciopero!) By Oddvar Bull Tuhus and Voldtekt (1971, Rape) by Anja Breien, a docudrama with a strong emotional impact. Breien (alongside Nicole Macé, Vibeke Løkkeberg and Laila Mikkelsen) promoted a cinema that paid more attention to women and their role in a changing society; inspired by John Cassavetes’ Husbands (1970) and the experiences of Cinéma vérité, he created Hustruer (Mogli) in 1975, a film dedicated to three friends who reflect on the problems of the female condition, with mostly improvised dialogues on the set. The vast echo obtained by the work encouraged the director who would later direct Hustruer – Ti år etter (1985, Mogli – Ten years later) and Hustruer III (1996, Mogli III). In Løperjenten (1981, Betrayal) by V. Løkkeberg, a story of adolescents in crisis after World War II, the same themes are developed, but using a more solid dramaturgical structure and, in part, closer to traditional canons. The director would later shine with the historical fresco Hud (1986, Pelle), the drama Måker (1990, Gabbiani) and with Der gudene er døde (1993, Where the gods are dead), dedicated to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia During the 1970s, Norwegian production recorded a real surge: 98 films were produced, compared to 63 in the previous decade. In spite of this, and beyond some of the cases cited, national cinema did not meet the favor of the local public, who in any case gave preference to works of lesser commitment, such as the series inaugurated by Olsen-banden (1969, La banda degli Olsen) by Knut Bohwim, which had as its protagonist a group of ramshackle criminals. To overcome the crisis, in the 1980s many producers decided to focus on projects with a wide international scope, also involving foreign partners. For Norway 2002, please check

The reference model has thus returned to being Hollywood and, in particular, action and spy films. Paradigmatic in this sense was the experience of Ola Solum who, in 1985, created Orions belte (The Orion Belt), a political fantasy thriller considered the most expensive film ever made in Norway. The success of the operation prompted the producers to continue on the same path: Blackout (1986) by Erik Gustavson, Turnaround (1987, shot in English) by Solum, Etter Rubicon (1987, After Rubicon) by Leidulv Risan, Blücher (1988) by Tuhus and Dykket (1989, Il tuffo) by Tristan de Vere Cole, all made with the help of US capital, had a good commercial success and contributed to significantly revive the fortunes of national production, which however lost ground in terms of identity and personality. Nils Gaup also moved in this direction, winning an Oscar nomination for best foreign film in 1988 with Veiviseren (1987, The Ice Archer), the first film shot in Lappish language. The only directors who distinguished themselves from this trend were Oddvar Einarson, author of X (1986), a film inspired by the overall work of Michelangelo Antonioni, who won a Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, and Unni Straume who, for his Til en unkjent (1990, To a stranger), referred to the lessons of masters such as Andrei A. Tarkovskij and Wim Wenders. In the 1990s the situation did not undergo radical changes, with a large number of productions: 93 (94 in the 1980s). Among the authors who have emerged more recently we should mention the actress Liv Ullmann, who made her directorial debut with Sofie (1992), the dramatic story of a young Danish Jewish woman between the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, and then continued his journey with Kristin Lavransdatter (1995), a medieval saga based on the famous novel by S. Undset. Ullmann then moved to Sweden to work again with Ingmar Bergman, who entrusted her with two of his screenplays. Particularly significant were also Knut Erik Jensen’s films Stella polaris (1993) and Brent av frost (1997, Burned by Frost), set in the arid and cold landscape of Finnmark, the northern tip of the country. Few works, however, have achieved international visibility; among these the remarkable Telegrafisten (1993, Il telegrafista) by Gustavson, taken from K. Hamsun; the comedy Budbringeren (1997; Posta celere) by Pål Sletaune; Insomnia (1997) by Erik Skjoldbjærg; and Elling (2001) by Petter Næss, also distributed in Italy. The production of short films, on the other hand, is extremely interesting, many of which are of exquisite workmanship and rich in inventions also on a stylistic level; in this context we recall the works of Eva F. Dahr In transit (1995, In transit), Taktikk (1999, Tattica) and Veddemålet (1999, La bet), the disturbing Dypets ensomhet (1995, The solitude of the abyss) by Joachim Solum and Thomas Lien, Nord og ned (1995, Up and down) by Espen Vidar and Tann for tann (1998, Tooth for tooth) by Emil Stang Lund.

Norway Cinematography