Although touching upon some sensitive issues regarding Norway’s welfare system, Petter Næss’ Elling is a good-natured and tender film. Elling is a 40-year old autistic man who has just been released from a mental institution along with a friend of his – and now the unlikely duo need to learn how to be functional adults. Elling is one of only three Norwegian films ever to be nominated for an Academy Award, so you know it’ll be good.
Another Norwegian film that was Oscar-nominated, Kon-Tiki tells the story of real-life legendary explorer Thor Heyerdahl, who crossed the Pacific Ocean with a wooden raft just to prove his theory about the first inhabitants of Easter Island being indigenous South Americans. The 2012 film is visually stunning and atmospheric and will keep you hooked despite the fact that you know how things are going to end (being a real -life story and all).
Max Manus Man of War
And from one real-life historical figure, to another: the biopic Max Manus Man of War is about one of Norway’s more famous resistance fighters during World War II. Of course, there has been some debate on whether the 2008 film starring Aksel Hennie is 100% historically accurate, or whether it portrays Norway’s stance in the war as a bit more black and white than it actually was – but that doesn’t take away the fact that this gripping thriller will keep you invested throughout.
If you liked Aksel Hennie in Max Manus, you will love him in Nobel. The eight-parter television series premiered on NRK in 2016 and became available on Netflix soon afterwards – and no, it doesn’t exactly have anything to do with Alfred Nobel or the Nobel Prize. But it does have a lot to do with the concept of peace: Nobel is a critical look on the war in Afghanistan and Norway’s military involvement there.
Archaeologist embarks on a very mundane search. Mundane search turns into a surprisingly supernatural quest. End-of-world chaos ensues as something buried and ancient awakes. Yes, you’ve seen it all before. But this 2013 film, called Gåten Ragnarok (“The Ragnarok Riddle”) in Norwegian, manages to turn this well-done trope on its head, offering a solution that a typical American blockbuster would shy away from.
Set a decade after the Black Plague, Escape (Flukt in Norwegian) is a period action film about a 19-year-old girl trying to survive against all odds. This one definitely doesn’t manage, or even try, to turn any trope on its head, but its fast pace, beautiful photography and short duration (only 74 minutes) will keep you hooked regardless.
This one you can watch with the whole family. Operation Arctic (Operasjon Arktis in Norwegian) is a beautifully made adventure about three kids who get stranded in isolation and have to rely on their resourcefulness in order to survive and get back home. The movie has gorgeous arctic imagery, polar bears, the world’s cutest white husky, and Kristofer Hivju (Tormund from Game of Thrones), so there’s something for everyone.
A Norwegian-made show about Vikings that makes fun of a certain non-Norwegian-made show about Vikings? Norsemen (Vikingane) is certainly not your average period drama – not even your average period comedy. It takes a while to acclimatize to the acerbic humor and the deadpan deliveries, and the dialog can go from Monty Python-witty to fratboy-silly in a matter of seconds, but if anyone should be allowed to ridicule the Vikings like that, well, it should be the Norwegians.
In Order of Disappearance
A dark comedy that many have compared to Fargo, staring Stelan Skarsgård and Kristofer Hivju? Sign us up! Kraftidioten (the Norwegian title of the film) is about a father who’s trying to solve the mystery of his son’s death and avenge him, with plenty of black humor and quiet menace, both qualities that Skarsgård possesses in abundance.
If you’re still sad The Sopranos is over (and who isn’t?), then the three seasons of Lilyhammer will hit just the spot. Join former NYC-based gangster Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano on his attempt to start a new life in Lillehammer, Norway, and prepare for some hardcore laughs along the way. Then, like the show’s official Facebook page for all the meme-worthy lines.
Another comedy about dysfunctional people: it would seem that that’s what Norwegian TV-makers do best. Dag is a comedy about a misanthropic marriage counselor of the same name, who hates spending time with anyone but his best friend Benedict and trusts married people even less than most. All four seasons of the show are currently on Netflix, so you’ll be set for a while.