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Entry updated 19 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

Tv series (2015 Norway; original title Occupert). TV2 Norge, Yellow Bird. Directed by Erik Skjoldbjaerg, Jon Andreas Andersen, Pål Sletaune, Erik Richter Strand, Eva Sorhaug. Written by Jo Nesbo, Karianne Lund, Erik Skjoldbjaerg et al. Cast includes Henrik Mestad, Eldar Skar, Ane Dahl Torp, Ragnhild Gudbrandsen, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Selome Imnetu, Vegar Hoel. Ten 45-minute episodes. Colour.

Banking on the potential of a newly-inaugurated thorium reactor for Norway's energy needs (see Power Sources), prime minister Jesper Berg (Mestad) orders the shutdown of the country's oil and gas production in fulfilment of one of his Ecology-minded party's election promises. Soon afterwards, he is kidnapped by masked men and instructed to re-open the oil fields or risk invasion by the Russian government, with the tacit support of the European Union. Before long, Norway is under a quiet, subtle Russian occupation, its sovereignty successfully undermined through the simple posting of military guards on oil rigs, and a rising population of Russian "advisers". After Berg's bodyguard Djupvik (Skar) thwarts an assassination attempt on the Russian ambassador Sidorova (Dapkunaite), he becomes a vital conduit of communication between the increasingly hostile factions. Fired from Norwegian government service after questions are raised about his loyalties, Djupvik begins working for the Russians, under Berg's secret orders.

Occupied's Near-Future setting is largely telegraphed through title sequences of melting glaciers and flash-floods indicative of Climate Change; otherwise it could be set in Oslo the day after tomorrow. Contemporary television news anchor Yama Wolsmal plays himself in cutaways, and Sverre Anker Ausdal seemingly impersonates the reigning monarch, King Harald V, in brief scenes of state Politics in action. However, the series draws deeply on Norway's own experience of World War Two; if the narrative of similar Anglophone sf is one of good versus evil and open conflict, Occupied draws instead on a national experience of quisling collaboration, the thinning of everyday comforts and freedoms, and the slow but sure assembly of an effective resistance – compare to Amerika (1987) and Colony (2016). This slow-burn approach is accentuated by the pacing of the episodes, which with the exception of the two-part finale are each set a month apart, allowing for much off-screen development.

Opposition begins with the subtlest of cues, a marching band in Oslo that cheekily plays "Norge i rødt hvitt og blått" ["Norway in Red, White and Blue"], a 1941 anthem proclaiming the state's resolve. Single acts of direct action blossom into protests and passive resistance, while false-flag acts by the Russians lead to anti-terror clampdowns and the erosion of civil liberties. Among the small, compact cast, drama revolves not only around Berg's hapless attempts at appeasement, but the pressures placed on Djupvik's wife (Imnetu), who is a newly-qualified court judge, as well as the investigative journalist Thomas Eriksen (Hoel), and Eriksen's wife Bente (Torp), whose high-end restaurant soon has no clients but the hated Russians. The formation of the true, armed resistance, mainly by the young and the disaffected military, is largely glimpsed only in the background until Berg, a spiritual successor to Chris Mullin's Prime Minister in A Very British Coup (1982), realizes that despite his efforts to hold off conflict, Norway truly has no option but to fight back. [JonC]

see also: Norway.


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