And if Russia invaded Norway with the approval of the EU to manage oil resources? This idea seems preposterous, germinated in the head Jo Nesbo, Scandinavian polar star. It led to the anticipation series Occupied , good political thriller in ten episodes, broadcast from Thursday night on Arte and treats as typical Norwegian neuroses (growing anxiety vis-à-vis Russia and remoteness of the European Union) as a more universal question: what are willing to sacrifice to the notions of democracy and freedom? We met the showrunner / director Erik Skjoldbjærg (whose film Insomnia had resulted in a remake by Christopher Nolan) and producer Marianne Gray, who explained this series daring that has caused a real diplomatic imbroglio …
The Point.fr: How did the idea of a series in which Russia is Norway
Marianne Gray: In 2009, I produced Headhunters , thriller adapted from a novel by Jo Nesbo. Jo asked me at that time: “May I pitcher an idea for television?” In Scandinavia, where it is marked by the classic thriller, there are few original ideas that contain as many opportunities. Jo is a big star in Scandinavia, his name certainly helped to finance. But as it is very busy and he realized that a series would take a lot of time and collective work, he left us the baby
Erik Skjoldbjærg. On told me the project in 2013. I said, “Hmm, that’s interesting. “The characters were already there, but we had to make it a credible and dramatic history. We wanted to show how this political change has consequences for the whole of Norwegian society and pressurizes the various institutions representing democracy.
Occupied implies that a democratic society is not necessarily adapted to meet such an invasion …
E. S.: That’s true. Generally provides that in case of threat, many people take up arms to resist. But all the statistics show that 90% of people will try and manage to find a way to negotiate a less painful way, because we have so much to lose. We wanted a series in which people can identify themselves and ask: “But what would I do in their place? “Or” Why does not that easy to make a choice? “
The choices are all the more easy as the Russian invasion turns” soft “and ambiguous …
M . G.: This is the whole idea of Jo Nesbo. What are you willing to do if your life does not fundamentally change and can continue to do your shopping on the weekend? Many are not willing to jeopardize the safety of their families.
E. S.: In Western societies, we persuade ourselves that public affairs are stable. It’s a trick of the mind. But when you look at history, you see that things change, often very quickly.
Yet it is difficult to imagine that in the near future, Norway can be occupied by the Russians with support from the European Union …
E. S.: It was the difficulty of the task. Of course, the idea of Russia and collaborating Union does not seem credible. But at the beginning of the series, a new green government has been elected and wants to stop production of hydrocarbons to renewable energy, which could very well happen in the near future in Norway with fears about global warming. Who would be the first victim? The European Union, for which Norway is the largest supplier of natural gas to Russia.
But Norway is still one of the founding members of NATO!
E. S.: We consulted a lot of geopolitical experts on how to make this believable scenario. One of them stressed that the United States turned away more and more of European affairs to focus on Asia. We played well on this map imagining that the United States withdrew from NATO and say to the European countries to cope. They do not need the Norwegian oil.
Why did you choose to invading a real country and not have opted for a fictitious nation?
E. S.: If we had used a fictitious country, we would have swung in the fantasy. We wanted a real mirror tend to Norwegian society. Give an identity to the invader was not at all in the idea of provoking the Russians.
MS : Even more than that we seemed impossible at the time! We just wanted to put Norway in a situation where she finds herself isolated from the rest of the world, and watch his reaction.
Except that in April 2014, when the shooting starts, Russia is accused of military interference in Ukraine …
E. S.: It was very strange. When I turned on the TV at night, I found that the same debate in the series that we were about to turn, whether this is really an occupation or not. We tried to reassure by saying that it was a pure coincidence.
M. G.: Suddenly, everyone was talking about the series even before its release. It has created controversy. We Norwegians are accused of causing Russia, others to stigmatize citizens of Russian origin.
In August 2015, the Russian Embassy in Oslo has strongly condemned the series, namely making it is part of the “worst traditions of the Cold War” …
E. S .: Occupied has nothing to do with the Cold War that pitted the West and the East! Here it is completely different. Those who criticize us on this aspect have not seen the series, simply. The Russian ambassador also recalled that Russia has never militarily occupied Norway, and that the Red Army even came to his rescue during World War II. This is a valid point, I can understand that. But we are not of historical drama. We wanted to see what he can do through a political anticipation fiction. I do not feel that we have crossed the red line.
What were the reactions in Norway after the first broadcast of Occupied in October ?
M. G.: For the first episode, we had a 45% share of market. And the 20-49 years was 54%.
E. S.: In addition to the hearing, Occupied caused a real public debate. On Russia, of course, because the Ukrainian crisis and Russian air exercises fueling fears in Scandinavia. But also ecologically party who did not like that in the series a green program lead to a foreign occupation. But the most interesting debate concerned democracy. I know that in the political parties, they looked forward to the series.Occupied , from Thursday evening on Arte.