Thursday, May 13, 2010

'Some people who refuse to be caught': Max Manus

Max Manus, a remarkable individual simply because as the Gestapo Agent after him said at the end of the war, “There are simply some people who refuse to be caught.”

The story of Max was too large for a movie, and Norway had few war heroes: taken without resistance, known as ‘Fortress Norway’ with 300,000 German and SS troops. When Finland was invaded by the Russians, many were against it, a few went to far as to enlist as volunteer troops, fighting a winter war against the worlds most efficient and effective army. One day, the Norwegian volunteers were lined up and informed that their country had been taken over, without a fight.

Max, without a chain of command, without orders, refused to accept that and returned with a group, and took over a Fortress from the Germans. They chose a leader, and for two months there WAS war in Norway against the Germans.

The film could not cover this, nor all of his operations as a saboteur, since as he says in the documentary, it was 10 operations to every one that succeeded, but his successes were huge. One significant operation likely saved the lives of 70,000 young men of Norway. He became obsessed with a single giant transport and armed ship, the one which had taken the Jews away from Norway. One attempt took two years, in building a human guided torpedo. He was found crying in the wetsuit over the failure of the torpedo.

This film, based on his two books written in 1945-6, has a 45 documentary with the filmmakers but more importantly with Max and all of his friends, those who survived. As they said, Max took every loss personally, it weighed on him. Towards the end, he became fatalistic, depressed. He was human, his hands shook by the end, but he kept on.

I ordered this DVD new, and watched it, then kept it 'As NEW' as I do. It is region 2 so if anyone who can play region 2 would like to trade a DVD or manga, or just would like to watch it, I would rather it go to a good home than sell it. I want it to be seen again. I guess I can identify with someone who, with no high structure, no command, just daily struggle to survive, alone in an occupied country, and strike back. I just wish I had the strike back part, but I can live vicariously. Watch the trailer and let me know in email or comments. I recommend this film highly.


FridaWrites said...

I love stories of courage in World War II. I was not familiar with the resistance movement in Norway, so thank you for writing about it. It's a lot of work for us to play region 2, so it should go to someone else, though I can see if Netflix has it in our format.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I don't think it is available here (North America - Region 1) because it is in Norwegian with subtitles and that isn't very popular, but I hope it is.

NOPE - they have the region 2 imports for about $30 and an all region for about $37 (ha!) - I am thinking more like a manga for a DVD. Those prices preclude those from watching. I mean if it comes to it, I will give it away to make sure someone sees this story (and the really excellent documentary as well).

Elizabeth McClung said...

Lene Andersen said...

that sounds fascinating! I'm very interested in stories about WWII - growing up in Denmark, there was a big awareness about it, the occupation of Denmark, the camps, etc. As well, my parents have told me lots of stories.

Let me see if I have something I can trade you for it.

JaneB said...

You do pretty well on the fighting back, considering - every postcard, every post here, every time you go out in public and assert your right to be somewhere, to be someONE despite your physical limitations - you're fighting. OK, maybe guns and explosions would feel more like 'real' fighting...

Raccoon said...

I had a class in college, "Europe in the 20th Century." The professor was, if I remember correctly, Arno Holtz or Koltz. It actually only covered Europe from the end of World War I until about halfway through World War II.

The single class that I remember the most involved his youth group.

He grew up in Danmark. His town apparently sent a message to the British that they surrendered, and that there would be no resistance when the British came. The "youth group" leader, the local "Nazi Youth" leader, took them out to the fields beside the road that the British would be coming in on.

They were armed with single shot rifles. The British, riding on top of all of their vehicles (remember, the town had already surrendered) were armed with machine guns. Of the teenagers, only the ones who stayed home survived.

Elizabeth, thank you for writing about history; I don't know where you find your topics, but they are always interesting.