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NINE LIVES

Norway, 1957 (MIFF 1959, Programme 25)

Director: A. Skouen

Each account of heroism and hardship which came out of World War II seemed to set a new level for man's indestructible spirit: but none seemed so utterly incredible as this tale of the Norwegian underground fighter, Jan Baalsrud.

Based on his actual experience, as described in David Howarth's book "We Die Alone", the gripping narrative unfolds, almost in the manner of a documentary. Events took place in Arctic Norway in 1943 during the Nazi occupation. Baalsrud sailed from Shetland in a small boat with three others to sabotage an airfield from which the German attacked the Allied convoys from England to Murmansk. Contact with an informer caused disaster, and a warship attacked the boat. Baalsrud alone escaped. shot in the foot. The film covers his hazardous struggle to neutral Sweden &ndash: two months of survival against unbearable odds. Jack Fjeldstad"s performance gives credence to the presentation, with fine support from his principal benefactors.

The film makes no concessions to its stark theme. It was shot along the same difficult route of Baalsrud's flight, with tremendous re-enactment of his ordeal. Harrowing but inspiring, it has been described as an "apotheosis to the will to live” played out against the magnificent background of the Lyngen Alps &ndash: it is less a war film than a record of human courage and kindness, practised by ordinary people who were in no way expecting reward, and even shrank from relating their parts in what has become a new northern saga.

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