But Greengrass, renowned for visceral action sequences in films
such as hostage drama "Captain Phillips" and the Jason Bourne
series, does not shy away from putting the terror explicitly on
The movie opens with Breivik using food blenders and a cement
mixer to make the explosives for a bomb he detonates in the
government district of Oslo, killing eight people, a scene that
is inter-cut with fresh-faced youngsters arriving at an island
summer camp where he will massacre 69 of them.
White-nationalist Breivik, played by Anders Danielsen Lie,
arrives on Utoeya disguised as a police officer sent to protect
the children, before calmly stalking across the island shooting
as many as he can.
In real life, the shooting spree lasted more than an hour. In
"22 July" it is over in a few excruciating minutes.
Greengrass said survivors and the bereaved families had asked
him not to "sanitize" the violence, but also to treat the
tragedy with respect.
"There are only a few fleeting moments of graphic violence," he
told a news conference.
"By far the preponderance of that sequence is suggested
violence. Now, of course, it has the power to shock and disturb,
but I think a fair viewer would say that it was handled with
FIGHTING FOR DEMOCRACY
The film focuses on teenager Viljar Hanssen, excited to be at
the annual summer camp organized by a youth group affiliated to
the Norwegian Labour Party, where the kids play sport, sing
around camp fires and talk politics.
Breivik finds Viljar cowering with others on a cliff ledge and
opens fire. The boy somehow survives multiple gunshot wounds,
including one to his brain, and the film follows the true story
of his recovery and decision to confront his attacker in court.
[to top of second column]
Greengrass said he had planned to make a film about the migration
crisis but turned to the Breivik story instead as it was a microcosm
of the issues he wanted to address, and hopes the movie will inspire
young people to confront the rise of nationalist and racist
"You have the story of how Norway fought for her democracy how her
politicians, how her legal system and how ordinary people caught up
in the middle of these events fought for democracy against this
threat. And every moment since then I think that threat has become
more pronounced," he said.
While stressing that he was making no direct comparison between
mass-murderer Breivik and alt-right campaigners such as Steve Bannon,
the subject of a documentary also being shown at Venice, Greengrass
said they shared a similar rhetoric.
"What was extraordinary to me was that the world view that (Breivik)
propagated, the rhetoric that he deployed, the arguments that he
used, that in 2011 would have been considered outré, are now pretty
much mainstream dialogue."
"22 July" is one of 21 films competing for the Golden Lion that will
be awarded at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday.
(Additional reporting by Lisa Keddie; Editing by Gareth Jones)
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