Did you see anything in Utøya?
Mis à jour : 19 nov. 2019
Returning in fiction to the real-time experiences of victims of a massacre, Utøya July 22nd marks the minds and questions.
Friday 22 July 2011. 17h25. Grey sky, darkened images, cold air, wet ground. In a single shot, the floating, empathetic camera from Norwegian filmmaker Karl Poppe's film Utøya July 22nd is part of a group of ruthlessly threatened, stalked and executed teenagers by an almost invisible killer, Anders Breivik. He is armed with a Ruger Mini-14 automatic rifle, a Clock 34 and 1500 cartridges.
Dressed in a police uniform, the mass murderer and right-wing extremist travels across a 10 hectares island, vaguely in the shape of a heart, Utøya, planted 40 kilometres from Oslo. His massacre on this island territory resulted in 69 deaths in 72 minutes. The disaster leaves survivors traumatized for life. A reality that is approached in the manner of a classic documentary fiction report, July 22 by Paul Greengrass.
Not to mention Rekonstruktion Utøya, by Carl Javér. Several episodes of the drama are narrated by survivors on a set evoking cinema or theatre at heart. We are at the heart of a device reminiscent of Dogville by Lars Von Trier: black stage box, white marking on the ground for the stylised topography of the courses, places, killings and facts. Teenagers who were not on the island are then invited to play it, under the direction of the witness.
On the island, hundreds of young people linked to the Labour Party are gathered for a summer university. At first, they were plunged into dismal concern when a bomb exploded in Oslo affecting ministerial buildings. Anders Breivik's attack resulted in 8 deaths. The activists then call their relatives, some of whom work in the area targeted by the attack. To date, the fact that no preventive evacuation of these people and the slowness of the special forces to intervene during the carnage remain elements of questioning and controversy.
Based on the stories of survivors of the drama, the film mainly follows Kaya, a young girl who actually never existed and dies at the end. For the former war reporter, filming will multiply the effects of reality, sometimes controversial: camera carried on the shoulder with disordered movements, look at the objective face of the main protagonist. The goal? Involve the spectator physically and sensory in the situation of frightened and stalked victims.
This bias thus limits the vision to stealthily crossing several events: young people fleeing desperately, shots fired and victims screaming, corpses stuck in the cliff, abandoned in the undergrowth or littering the shore. Faced with the deadly threat, which they do not know if there is a single murderer or several, no solidarity or fraternity crosses them. Only the biological imperative and the implacable logic of immediate survival and panic terror seem to animate them.
One of the trailers (whose film does not use any images) was nevertheless intended to be an example of a memorable and archaeological cinema, in the tradition of the documentary Shoah on the concentration camp universe. Instead of travelling on the rails leading to Treblinka, proposed by Claude Lanzmann, the slow progress of the objective along a tent camp reconstituted on a neighbouring island of Utøya is being replaced here. It simultaneously unveils a devastated crime scene and the memorial of a dangerous story to be imaged.
However, this commendable teaser is at odds with the feature film, which has the appearance of an archaic, horrific and cruel tale. Utøya July 22nd thus joins in particular some aquatic predator films, such as The Reef. And his shark tracking a group of shipwrecked people, killing them one by one. This is done by alternating the famous pseudo subjective camera point of view of the ruthlessly hunted protagonist.