August 8, 2015


The Saboteurs box set review - 'how wartime adventure should be done' : This ripping Norwegian yarn skates across second-world-war Europe as commandos and academics combine to sabotage the Nazi race for the bomb (Andrew Collins, 6 August 2015, The Guardian)

While Denmark and Sweden dominate the Scandi-drama market, here's a ripping yarn generated in Norway that sidesteps slate-grey contemporary angst and instead shows how oldfangled, true-life wartime adventure should be done, while reminding us that not all people with blond hair in the second world war were baddies.  [...]

[I]n a saga that delights in moving around the map of war-torn Europe (the dialogue toggles between Norwegian, German, French and English), we follow another academic who is more at home in tanktops than tanks: chemistry professor Leif Tronstad, played with dashing, bilingual ease by Espen Klouman Høiner. He zooms to London to work alongside British intelligence, represented by Anna Friel and a stiff-upper-lipped colonel played by Pip Torrens.

Their target is a huge mountainside hydroelectric plant in occupied Norway, pressed into Nazi service to beat the Allies to nuclear fission. A crack squad of 10 mostly fair-haired soldiers are parachuted into the snow to sabotage the manufacture of heavy water; then, after two episodes of mostly faffing around in rooms with maps, the team is go go go. If these events seem familiar, it may be because they were dramatised in the 1965 film The Heroes of Telemark, with Kirk Douglas playing a Norwegian physics professor.

While series director Per-Olav Sørensen brings comparable cinematic tension, sweep and on-location scale to the ski-based sabotage sequences, the 270-minute running time allows the writers (including Borgen creator Adam Price) to explore moral conundrums, such as a controversial attack on a passenger ferry that's also transporting heavy water. I could, however, have lived without the will-they-won't-they flirtation between Tronstad and agent Friel.

Posted by at August 8, 2015 7:10 AM

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