Film / Max Manus

A 2008 Norwegian film about the eponymous World War II resistance fighter Maximo "Max" Manus, who after a short deployment fighting Russians in Finland returns to Norway to find it occupied by the Germans, and ends up joining a British special forces unit to conduct commando missions around Norway. Notable as one of the highest-grossing Norwegian films ever, as well as sparking much domestic debate about the glorification of the resistance movement.

Provides examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: played straight and foreshadowed — in the beginning of the film, it is made clear to Max that chances of survival in the commando unit is minimal. The scene where the group plans their first raid, operation Mardonius, is notable in this regard because out of all the people in the scene, only Max survives the war.
  • Based on a True Story: though with a few notable exceptions, such as overplaying Max's role in Finland, where it is not certain if he saw any action at all. Though Maximo Manus himself was not alive when the movie was released, his widow stated that she found it an accurate portrayal.
  • Balcony Escape: Max Manus. Twice in a row.
  • Bittersweet Ending: the film ends with the death of Hitler and the liberation of Europe. However, Max Manus is pretty much a mental wreck at this point, having lost countless close friends and blaming himself for their deaths, and feeling obsolete and worthless without a war ("nothing is more pathetic than a soldier no one has a use for"). He's also given up on ever getting Tikken to fall in love with him. Although he does end up marrying Tikken, the 'conclusion text' before the end credits reveal that he will struggle with depression and alcoholism for the rest of his life.
  • Break the Cutie: Max Manus himself, as well as Tallak when he is captured by the Germans.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: "Tikken"'s first meeting with Max Manus.
  • Foreign-Language Tirade: at one point, a disillusioned and possibly slightly delirious Max delivers a heartfelt monologue about his resistance fight to a German soldier who appears to not understand his language. Fortunately, reality does not ensue here — he really doesn't understand Norwegian.
  • Light Is Not Good: Fehmer is blond, courteous, cultured and loves the country he is helping occupy — so much, in fact, that he does not balk at torture and killing to get rid of the resistance fighters.
  • MacGuffin: Max Manus is obsessed with sinking the Donau, a huge and heavily-armed German cargo ship shipping supplies and prisoners between Norway and Germany on a daily basis.
  • Meet Cute: Max and his love Tikken, one of the women in Sweden helping the Allied resistance fighters.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Fehmer being an example of the cultured one.
  • Older Than They Look: Kjakan was 21 when the war broke out, but he looks like a teenager in the film. The real Kjakan didn't look that young at that time.
  • Present Day Past: Tikken revealed herself to be quite into slang of The Noughties at one point in the movie.
  • Protagonist Title.
  • Reality Ensues: there are several scenes which fans of action films would expect to turn out differently than they do. For example, when Max Manus jumps through a closed window, several stories over a cobblestone street, he is heavily injured both by the cuts and the impact with the ground, and ends up bedridden in a hospital. There is also a scene where two of his comrades meet with an alleged Nazi informant in a cafe, only to realize they've walked into a setup and that they are surrounded by heavily armed Nazis. Perhaps surprisingly to fans of Hollywood flicks, they don't miraculously win the ensuing firefight.
  • Rule of Cool: The movie made a point of making some scenes more action like than they actually were. The first Balcony Escape had Max hitting one of the police men before jumping. In Real Life, he just said "look", and pointed to a picture on the wall before jumping, having made them turn around for a moment.
    • Max Manus lampshaded this himself in his memoirs (when describing his arrest): "If this had been a movie, I probably would have been a badass and tried shooting myself out of the mess. As it were, I just put down my gun and said: Hi, guys!"
  • Surprisingly Good Foreign Language: the German actor playing the German Gestapo officer Siegfried Fehmer did not speak a word of Norwegian when he was hired. Undeterred, he decided to teach himself Norwegian for his participation in the film.
  • Survivor Guilt: one of Max's biggest weaknesses is that he seems to blame himself every time one of his comrades dies.
  • Underground Railroad: The medics and nurses at Ullevaal hospital, where Max ended up after his first Balcony Escape. The medical staff nursed him back to health, and made sure he got out of Norway in one piece. Truth in Television: The medical staff at Ullevaal helped quite a few resistance people during the war.
  • War Is Hell: Especially resistance warfare. The constant paranoia of getting caught, and many, many friends you've known for years getting killed.