Paul Greengrass is not any stranger to taking on delicate materials.
The English filmmaker has introduced a choice of a few of the most harrowing real-life occasions of the previous 50 years to the massive display: In 2002, he wrote and directed Bloody Sunday, a movie about the 1972 “Bloody Sunday” shootings in Northern Eire; In 2006 he took audiences inside the hijacking of the aircraft that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on 9/11 with United 93, and in 2013 he directed the Tom Hanks-starring thriller Captain Phillips that recreated the true story of the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking.
Greenglass’ newest providing is 22 July, the dramatization of the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway the place Anders Behring Breivik packed a van filled with hundreds of kilos of explosives, parked it in entrance of a authorities constructing in central Oslo, and left it to blow up, killing eight individuals. As the bomb detonated, Breivik drove to a summer time camp on Utoya Island run by the authorities’s Labor Celebration. Wearing police uniform and informing the camp staff he was there to safe the island after the terrorist assault, he tricked his means onto Utoya the place he methodically opened hearth on the camp attendees — the majority of whom have been underneath the age of 18. He massacred 69 individuals on the island along with the eight he’d already killed with the bomb, and injured many extra.
Based mostly on the 2013 e-book Considered one of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Bloodbath in Norway by journalist Asne Seierstad, 22 July traces the occasions of that 2011 day kind of in actual time, however dedicates the majority of the film to the assault’s aftermath. We witness the agonizing restoration of 16-year-old survivor Viljar Hanssen (performed by newcomer Jonas Strand Gravli), who suffered 5 gunshot wounds and finally testified towards Breivik in courtroom, in addition to the street to Breivik’s (Anders Danielsen Lie) trial — the place we study he detests how his nation welcomes refugees and foreigners and needs to revive Norway to a purer state — and the response of the Norwegian prime minister (Ola G. Furuseth), who needs to know how such a factor might occur in his nation.
Regardless of Greengrass’ expertise in confronting the most troublesome of subjects, the director has turn out to be no much less meticulous in his strategy to creating them into films. EW caught up with the filmmaker to raised perceive the thought course of and consciousness that goes into bringing a such a profound and up to date horror (the magnitude of which Norway hadn’t confronted since the Second World Struggle) to the display with out giving a platform to the damaging and devastating views of its real-life villain in the course of.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What made you need to make the occasions of July 22 right into a film?
PAUL GREENGRASS: Like everybody, I’m somewhat involved with the method the world’s going proper now, with this rising tide of exhausting proper politics that you would be able to see in all places. So I made a decision to make a movie about it and that led me to take a look at the story of Norway due to what Breivik did but in addition extra importantly – which I feel is what the movie’s about – the story of how Norway fought for her democracy. It was finally a really inspiring story and one with classes for all of us. In fact democracy’s not a given, it needs to be fought for and positively in Norway that’s actually the story: how younger individuals, how households, how legal professionals, politicians fought to protect democracy towards this menace — that’s actually the story.
Was that concern for the approach the world’s leaning the purpose you felt like now was the proper time to make this film? Some individuals may argue it’s too near the assault to convey it to the movie show.
It’s a bit like United 93 — the individuals who rightfully determine whether or not it’s the proper time or the incorrect time are the households instantly affected. In the event you make these [kind of movies], you go and ask their permission and that’s what I did with this group. They strongly supported the making of the movie as a result of they, greater than another group of individuals, perceive what the menace is and need to warn the remainder of us as a result of they lived via it.
So the households have been very concerned in the course of?
Yeah, I consulted with them, however finally the movie has to talk for itself. We took it to point out them months in the past they usually’ve been extremely supportive of the movie and supportive of us making it and supportive of the finish end result.
And there’s wasn’t any backlash?
Not from the households, under no circumstances. On the opposite, they’ve provided very profound help, which has been very shifting for all of us.
How do you go about representing somebody like Breivik with out overly demonizing him or giving him, and his beliefs, an excessive amount of of a platform?
That’s one thing I undoubtedly thought rather a lot about earlier than I made the movie. What was instructive about Norway was that that they had that debate: Can we face him or can we shut him away and never let him converse? In the finish, they took the view that he needed to be confronted and he needed to be allowed to talk with a view to be confronted, and that, to me, felt like certainly one of the classes that Norway provides us: We will’t fake that these views and the individuals who consider these views aren’t there and that they’re not spreading quick. To lock the barn door when the constructing’s on hearth appears to me not the proper factor to do. It’s a must to struggle the hearth. It’s a must to take a look at it, acknowledge that it’s there after which battle it, and I feel that’s the lesson of Norway. In the finish, the story of the movie doesn’t give him a platform, it simply appears clearly at him and acknowledges Norway and acknowledges that he’s a devoted right-wing extremist who’s a part of a subculture of people that assume like he thinks and that’s rising quick. However that was confronted and that’s finally what the movie’s about. It’s meant to be an inspiring portrait and one which defeats him. He’s not given the platform, he’s defeated; defeated morally and intellectually and emotionally.
And the way encouraging that a part of his defeat comes at the palms of the youth, the voices of the future.
Precisely. Whenever you see what these younger individuals did in Parkland, it’s sort of comparable. There’s an identical high quality: Younger individuals stepping as much as the plate to seek out what kind of world they need to stay in. I feel we’re going to be seeing extra of that. Our youngsters will beat you and their youngsters will beat you.
The toughest scene to observe in the film is the capturing scene, when Breivik opens hearth on the youngsters. How did you strategy that in order it maintain it genuine however not overly gratuitous?
There have been two threshold points that I had to consider earlier than I made the movie. The primary one we simply mentioned is once you’re making this movie you run the danger of giving this man and his views a platform. The second factor is, are you able to make a movie like this about occasions which are so heinous and upsetting and be truthful about them and but not create pictures which are so distressing to who’s going to go and see it? It’s the Schindler’s Listing drawback. You do it once you really feel what you’re doing has ethical seriousness. You do it with nice restraints, profound restraint and also you do it in session with the individuals affected. The best way to deal with the violence was in all probability the most mentioned concern and the households had very clear views. At one assembly, a man spoke up and he stated he strongly supported making the movie however stated, “You will be doing a disrespect to me and to my daughter who’s no longer here if you sanitize the violence. People have to understand what happened because this is a track that we’re all facing now. On the other hand, you’re also being doing a disrespect to me and my daughter if you exploit the violence, if you’re gratuitous about it. If you take on the film you’re going to have to make sense of those two and plot a course between them.” One among the issues I used to be most heartened by once they all noticed the movie was that we had robust help for the approach the attacks have been dealt with. It’s a disturbing sequence however there’s little or no gratuitous violence. I feel it’s dealt with with nice restraint. I attempted to get the stability. The stability was very forcefully and correctly laid out for me.
One different concern I had to consider earlier than making the movie was the leisure dilemma. I considered that very clearly as a result of I consider in the energy of leisure and I consider in cinema’s mission to entertain. I feel it’s a fantastic and noble mission and all the time has been since the delivery of cinema and I wish to assume I’ve made a number of movies alongside the method that folks have discovered massively entertaining. However I additionally assume that, once in a while, movies need to dare to only take a look at the world and that’s a special factor. I feel audiences perceive it’s totally different. It’s a part of what makes cinema a broad providing; there’s films that you simply purchase a field of popcorn and you’re keen on on a Saturday night time and that’s nice. Audiences additionally know that there are movies which try to interact with how the world is — not by slanting it as a result of that may be propaganda — however by daring to look honestly at the world and see what that claims to you. That’s a part of what retains cinema alive. That commits it to the actual world. I noticed it very a lot as a sister movie to United 93.
You forged Norwegian actors who converse in accented English all through. Are you able to speak about that call? Did you contemplate having them converse in Norwegian with subtitles?
I actually had no thought to do it in Norwegian as a result of I don’t converse a phrase of the language, so if we’d made it in Norwegian it will have been a unique director. Norway’s a bilingual society — everybody speaks English fairly fluently. It was about bringing Norway’s story to the wider world so we did it in English. Then if I shot it in Norway with a Norwegian forged and crew, the movie would have a Norwegian id and be a Norwegian movie. In some ways my job was simply to assist them inform their story. When it comes to casting, I can’t consider a movie that’s been simpler to forged, truly. They’ve obtained such fantastic actors and, in fact, all of them keep in mind the place they have been when it occurred. Lots of them knew individuals concerned in the attacks or knew individuals who knew individuals. It’s a really small nation so it meant for a really dedicated firm of actors supported, in fact, by the crew and that gave the making of the movie a particular environment; a particular sense of objective.
Let’s speak about casting Anders Danielsen Lie as Breivik. That may’t be a task anybody takes on calmly.
Anders is one among Norway’s most beloved actors and that made his duty all the larger. He felt very strongly that he ought to do it. He felt it was necessary to confront the actuality of who Breivik was with out portray him as a monster however with out sympathizing with him both, simply daring to take a look at him and see what taking a look at him tells us as a result of his beliefs are spreading dynamically throughout the west, tons and plenty of individuals assume like he thinks. In fact they wouldn’t essentially do what he did, although the violent far proper can also be rising quick and that’s an actual problem as a result of we’re not speaking about regular political opposition. This entire populist proper wing factor sits at the far proper of politics and a few of it’s inside democratic parameters and a few of it, loads of it, an growing quantity of it, is anti-democratic. It’s outdoors the parameters of regular political debate and it’s quick rising…and it needs to comb democracy away.
How did he put together for the position?
The police made all the interrogations out there to us and I keep in mind Anders watched far more than I did. Breivik was so completely regular, completely bizarre, so completely dedicated to his trigger however so solely un-flamboyant about it. He might’ve been anybody that you simply or I do know. That was what was so fascinating about the Breivik case in Norway… They needed to confront the undeniable fact that he wasn’t mad. In fact he had a troublesome household background however to not that time. In the finish, what they needed to confront was his beliefs. He believed what was his radicalization of a right-wing violent excessive. That was the scary factor. Whenever you get anger on the market and resentment and a way of betrayal, individuals begin to surrender on democracy and begin to assume there are different methods ahead and that’s once we get the issues that our mother and father and grandparents lived by way of.
22 July is accessible to stream on Netflix now.
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