MSPIFF: Opening night: Max Manus

Tonight Louise and I went to the MSPIFF’s opening film: Max Manus.  It was well worth hustling ourselves out the door after a hasty dinner to get to St. Anthony Main for the opener.

Based on World War II history in Norway, a guy by the name of Max Manus (Wikipedia) was one of a number of young men in Oslo … kids, really … Manus (in the film) protrayed as a school dropout, and if any his compatriots were older than 25, then the film lied to me.  When you’re that young, what do you do to fight the Nazi army?  They’ve steamrolled your country and government about as quickly as they’ve steamrolled much of Europe.

You start by printing a paper.  You and your friends are tied closely enough to older (and wiser) Resistance fighters that you know them pretty well.  Too well. You get caught.  You jump out a second-storey window to avoid arrest.  You’re under arrest in your hospital bed, but the Resistance knows that you know too much about them, so they help you escape.  You go to Scotland and train to be a saboteur.  You return to Norway and … history unfolds.  Quite an amazing story.

One of the characters from the film, Gunnar Sønsteby (Wikipedia), jumped out of the screen and into the world.  He’s now about 92 years old.  Many thanks to Ingebretson’s for helping with the airfare to bring him to Minnesota!  He gave a short introduction to the film.  As pointed out by Sylvia Sabo, spouse of Martin Sabo pointed out to us as we chatted after the film, he didn’t talk about himself: he spoke instead about his father.  His father was arrested and held in prison for years to try to force Max into custody.  It didn’t work: Max was never caught.  And about the torture in the film: it’s one thing to read about torture in a book, but yes, the film’s portrayal comes pretty close to how bad it was for the Resistance.

Speaking of the Sabos … we’ve been fortunate to meet them through a good friend, Tom Bostelmann.  (They’re Tom’s aunt & uncle.)  I’ve heard a rumor that he’s preparing for a trip to Sierra Leone soon.  I need to see if that rumor is true….