Political Film Review #638

BETRAYED REVEALS THE FATE OF JEWS IN NAZI-CONTROLLED NORWAY

Directed by Eirik Svensson, Betrayed begins with a Nazi roundup of Jews in 1942 and quickly reverts to 1939, when Charles Braude (played by Jakob Oftebro) wins against a Swedish opponent in a boxing match. Afterward, he celebrates with many friends, including a girlfriend, Ragnhild Boyesen (Kristine Kujath Thorp). He then returns home rather late for the family dinner, and filmviewers learn that his mother Sara (Pia Halvorsen) father Isak (Eilif Hartwig), and two brothers Harry (Carl Martin Eggesbø) and Benzel (Michalis Koutsogiannakis). Are Jewish. In 1910, they arrived in Norway as refugees from Lithuania to escape pogroms. Mrs. Braude is concerned that the Nazis might take over Norway, forcing a relocation. Mr. Braude assures her that Norway is beyond Nazi interests, clearly unaware that control of the Baltic Sea requires a strong North Sea presence in Norway. Soon, Charles indicates that he is in love with Ragnhild, a Gentile, and the family appears to be comfortable with his choice, especially when later she meets his father at his sausage supply store.

Then in 1940, the German Army takes over. (As dramatized in The King’s Choice (2016, the king of Norway escaped to Britain to avoid capture). In 1942, Nazis finally allow Prime Minister Vidkun Quisling to serve as a regent for Hitler, while the Norwegian army and police do the bidding of the Nazi occupiers, not even warning Jews of their fate so that they could escape. Considerable time is devoted to the roundup of Jews in November 1942, boarding of ships destined for Auschwitz by women, children, and men over 445, and even the stripping of stripping before entering the gas chambers; only 38 survive the experience. Because Charles is famous and has an “Aryan” spouse, he is sent to a concentration camp at Berg, though roughed up in several ways. Titles at the end provide some statistics, note that Norway apologized for its collaboration in 2012, and indicate the future of those featured in the film who survived the war. As a biopic of Charles Braude, we learn that he survived the war, took up boxing again, never reunited with Ragnhild, and married two more times. 

The Norwegian title Den største forbrytelsen is the title ofMarte Michelet’s 2018 book The Greatest Crime: Victims and Perpetrators in the Norwegian. As a film revealing Norway’s situation during World War II, the Political Film Society has nominated Betrayed for best film exposé and best film on human rights of 2021.  MH

HOW HOLLYWOOD INSPIRED QANON

The Political Film Society generally focuses on films based on fact—a minority among those released annually. Yet all films have political elements insofar as they portray a power structure within fictional stories. Some filmviewers seek an understanding of how politics works when they see fictional films and latch onto false narratives. Director Ridley Scott generally directs films based on true events, and his White Squall (1996) presented a true story based on the book The Last Voyage of the Albatross about a tough captain and teenage sailors on a ship sailing in the Caribbean and South Pacific. The words on the vessel, “Where we go one, we go all,” however, became QAnon’s slogan (WWG1WGA) many years later. The QAnon view that reptiles, seeking to control the world, disguise themselves as humans, comes from the 1983 miniseries V. Among the “reptiles” are Bill Clinton and Queen Elizabeth II, and Covid-19 is a reptilian method for takeover. V, in turn was based on Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here (1935), a story about the election of a populist American president who promises a return to Christian values who, once elected, becomes authoritarian. Seeking to warn about the danger of fascism in the United States, V changed the Americans in Lewis’s story into reptiles in order to make the fascists more disgusting. But QAnon adopted the reptilian narrative to explain how progressives seek dominance. QAnon followers believe that Hollywood characterizations spew hidden truths from American elites, and the pedophile idea comes from Eyes Wide Shut (1999), which in turn was based on the novel Dream Story (1926).  MH

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