Nine lives (Ni liv)

ni-liv-posterNorwegian language black and white biographical action from 1957.
Starring: Jack Fjeldstad, Henny Moan, Alf Malland
Director: Arne Skouen
Writers: David Howarth, Arne Skouen
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

Jan Baalsrud is part of the resistance during the Nazi occupation of Norway. During an operation all the other saboteurs are killed or captured, so Jan must get himself to safety, and the only place he can get away from the constant German patrols are in Sweden.

Reactions

“Nine lives” is based on a true story. If not, I would have found the tale unbelievable. Crossing the 200 km from Rebbensøya to the Swedish border would be quite a feat even in full health, with sturdy equipment and no one chasing you. Even springtime that far north of the Polar Circle offers harrowing weather conditions and the terrain across the mountains to the border is only for the more experienced hiker.

I have plotted an approximation of Jan Baalsrud’s route, as it is a bit confusing in the movie where he is and why he keeps having to use boats. His route is about the distance from London to Cardiff for reference.

And that is one of the movies weaknesses, we never quite know where Jan Baalsrud is. We are either supposed to know this information already, or it is supposed to not matter. I just kept wondering where he was throughout the movie. (So I tried to help other potential viewers by making a map. Take a look before the movie, no need to memorize anything, just get an overview, and rest assured, there are no spoilers in the map.)

Most of the “Nine lives” depicts the journey from the moment Jan Baalsrud is alone until he reaches Sweden, although there is a framing story where he tells his story to an official from the Norwegian government. This framing is very brief and doesn’t impact the movie much. Which is lucky as it falls flat and the big moment where Baalsrud gets respect for what he did just seems silly.

Contemplations

“Nine lives” is naturally a bit dated in some ways as it is now 60 years old, but for the most part it held my attention and told a story well. It is a shame that the beautiful landscapes in the area are shown in black and white, but the photography is otherwise excellent.

The resistance movement during the war might not be well exemplified by such an extraordinary feat, but all the help Baalsrud received does show a more general part of history. This makes the story more important than just one lone guy’s survival.

The acting is great in all the parts, and the only little annoyance I had with the movie was the overly dramatic music during the travel scenes.

Judgement

“Nine lives” is a good movie, but maybe not something to watch often.

Epilogue

I would recommend “Nine lives” to anyone, it is both good and important in some ways. Not a bad idea to watch it once.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Nine lives” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

47 movies down. 318 to go.

If you want to get “Nine lives” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “The celebration”. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.