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Film / We Leave for England

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We leave for England (Englandsfarere), is a Norwegian feature film made in 1946, based on a novel with the same name by author Sigurd Evensmo.

The story takes place during World War II, and relates the recovered diary of resistance man Harald Silju, who was forced into hiding, tried to escape to England, and was arrested by the Gestapo. Harald, an ordinary guy, was pretty passive, regarding both the occupation of Norway and the resistance, until a Heel Realisation following the execution of the labour leaders Hansteen and Wickstrøm in 1941. After this, he joined the resistance, and soon became a target. Harald had to go into hiding during the round-up during the winter of 1942, and it was arranged for him to escape to England (hence the title). With him came a number of other men, but one of them was not to be trusted (only referred to as "number five" or "the fifth man"). This man gave up the others, and the lot of them was arrested, left in a camp for several months, before they eventually got executed. The life in prison is described, the different men, their hopes, their life stories - one of them fighting with the international Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, another man fighting for Franco. The end of the movie shows the lot of prisoners being herded out for execution.



  • Arc Symbol: The birch at the end of the movie. Symbolizing hope, spring, new beginnings, and is connected to the celebration of Norwegian independence (birches sprout almost to the day of May 17).
  • Astronomic Zoom: A rare early example (almost an Unbuilt Trope, because it predates any satellite or spacecraft), using the spinning planet as a background for the credit roll at the start of the film. When the credits end, the camera pans inwards while the spinning grinds to a halt, and stops to reveal the map of occupied Norway under a Swastika symbol. From then, cue the Spinning Paper sequence.
  • Author Tract: Evensmo has the Civil War veteran to utter his own opinions on some political subjects.
  • Babies Ever After: Harald gets information while in prison, that his wife is expecting another child. He knows he will never meet any of them again.
  • Based on a True Story: The author, Sigurd Evensmo, barely survived the war after a similar experience.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Harald at the start of the war. He is adamant on the "not choosing sides" argument, and is justly being called out on it, because it is pointed out to him that you have to choose.
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  • Dead Man Writing: More obvious in the book, but evidently revealed in the movie as well. Harald was shot with the others, and his notes were found in the cell after the end of the war.
  • Decoy Hiding Place: At the beginning of the film, Harald and several other resistance men are hidden away in seemingly empty houses, with a warning not to answer the phone, and only answer the door on a given signal. The movie proceeds to flashbacks when Arild joins Harald at the hiding place, to tell their respective backstories.
  • Defiant to the End: The resistance men after being arrested. The movie invokes this rather broadly, and justifies the trope by stating that every little drop of defiance will slow down the German war machine. "There are camps all over Europe with people like us, and every prisoner will slow them down a little". This verges on CMOA a couple of times: First, when the prisoners are set to disciplinary training by the German guards. At one point, a Norwegian prisoner is set to lead the drill, and when being mocked by the Germans, he defiantly commands all of the prisoners to clench their fists, and keep them straight up in the air (almost giving a collective finger to Nazi Germany in the process). This same prisoner defies a German officer at the end of the movie, which results in a whiplash over his face. He barely blinks. And then, there is the very end, when all of them are shot off screen, while the music grows to a thundering climax, and a single birch tree is standing as the credits close (Rule of Symbolism: The birch stands for an independent Norway).
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  • Disproportionate Retribution: The whole lot of prisoners (25 Norwegians give or take) are shot because the Germans lost two men in an ambush. It is reasonable to believe that Arild, one of the prisoners, shot one of them.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Moments before the men are marched out to be shot, Janken stands up to the German guards. He has been chosen as an interpreter because he knows German. The officer compliments him and says that this man would have been a good Stuka pilot. Janken calmly answers "no, mein herr, I would never be a good Stuka pilot!" The officer gets furious and whips him over the face. Janken smiles and just stares him down.
  • Downer Ending: The main characters are shot. Even more jarring in the book, where it is stated that the notes were found in the cell after the war, "and nobody knows where they are buried".
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Harald`s last voiceover,spoken while the men are marched out to be shot.
    I will always be near you, Torill. I will walk with you in all the paths we trod together...
    • The words are lifted directly from the book, meant to be from the leftover notes found in the cell after the war.
    • The actor doing the part of Harald, Knut Wigert, went on to become one of the greatest actors in Norway after the war, by the way. This movie gave him the first opportunity to prove himself.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Every single one of the prisoners after some debate. Lampshaded by the Civil War Veteran, when he understands where they are headed.
    Ok, boys. We all know how this is gonna end. We might as well face it with dignity.
  • The Film of the Book: Evensmo had this one out in 1945 already. Director Thoralf Sandøe got the movie rights in no time.
  • Fist of Rage: Up to Eleven when Every Single Prisoner does it at once, holding their fists up in the air, as a sign of defiance against the German occupiers.
  • Heel Realisation: Several. Harald has one before he joins the resistance. Later, the man fighting with the fascists admits he was stupid, and the other civil war veteran gives him some tobacco and states there is always some room for a repentant sinner. Anyway, they are both to be shot, so why argue?
  • Heroic BSoD: Harald has one in the camp. A young boy, Bjørn, gets it even harder when he realises where he is going, mostly because of his mother (Who is shown briefly, having her own BSOD because she knows what her son is up to).
  • Hope Spot: All the refugees huddle together in the bulk of a Norwegian fishing boat, waiting for a signal to go. Then somebody asks: "Where is number five"? A collective Oh, Crap! moment follows when someone opens the hatch from above and four German soldiers say hello.
  • Jumped at the Call: Harald, after the execution of the Union Leaders.
  • Killed Offscreen: The prisoners and the guards disappear behind a hill at the end of the movie, and that´s it.
  • Kill ’Em All: Hoo boy. ALL the main characters are shot at the end of the movie.
  • The Mole: The man referred to as "number five" (a Shout-Out to the "fifth columnists"). He is the one responsible for getting all of them arrested.
  • Nominal Importance: Harald, Arild, Bjørn and Janken (the singer) is singled out by name, so is Torill and Hilde (the nurse who gets arrested with the men). Other characters carry nicknames more often than not: Number Five, The Nameless, the Skipper, the Dreamer, The Civilian, and so on.
  • Old Soldier: The veteran from the Spanish Civil War should count here. Also his counterpart, who fought under Franco.
  • La Résistance: Obviously.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Several times, first in a Spinning Newspaper sequence, later when Real Life radio broadcasts are referred to.
  • Shoot the Dog: Arguably the whole point of the movie.
  • Smurfette Principle: More jarring in the camp than outside. Only one single girl is arrested with the men. She survives. And there is, of course, Torill, Harald´s wife.
  • Spinning Paper: The movie opens with a Spinning Paper sequence to tell the story behind the occupation of Norway, using Real Life headlines from the beginning of World War II.
    • Subverted visually because the headlines doesn´t actually spin.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: All.The.Way. Not one single German is shown in a sympathetic light.
  • Victorious Chorus: The end of the movie has one. A recurring Theme Tune is used prominently in the movie, and this melody is sung in the camp by one of the prisoners (a gifted singer), used as a sombre funeral tune of some sort: "A rider rides with a grey coat, through the night, get on, get on". At the end of the movie, the song is sung by a full choir, and the sheer effect of this sombre tune rising upwards and changing to a thundering major chord at the end, makes the end a Moment of Awesome - set against the fact that all the main characters are dead.
    • The score adresses the audience, actually, saying in not so many words: "Even if these men were executed, we lived to make this movie"! (as the movie was shot less than a year after the end of the war, this makes sense). Possibly one of the most epic movie endings in the Norwegian movie canon.

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