Narvik hit the top spot on Netflix days after the release of the Norwegian film. The movie chronicles the disruption of life in a tiny Norwegian town – Narvik – by feuding foreign nations. Members of the Tofte family play a crucial role in the battle: Gunnar Tofte, an army corporal, enlists to battle the Germans; Ingrid Tofte, his wife, is forced to help the Germans and the English. 

Ingrid’s mastery of German proves useful to the German invaders – she serves as a translator between them and Narvik’s mayor. She later provides information about German installations in the area to the English, sparking a bombing raid that kills most of the local population. 

Narvik is based on the Battle of Narvik, waged in the early days of WWII

Germany had the upper hand in the early days of WWII: The Third Reich crushed resistance with ruthless efficiency. Norway declared itself a neutral country, but it had resources Germany could use to fuel its war machine. 

Therefore, Germany ignored Norway’s neutrality and invaded the nation. The small port town of Narvik facilitated the transport of iron ore mined in Sweden and Norway. Germany needed the ore to build tanks, ammunition, airplanes, and artillery. 

Narvik is based on the Battle of Narvik, waged by the Allied Forces to cut off iron ore supply to the Germans. 

The German forces easily overwhelmed the Norwegian army that tried to protect Narvik. In an attempt to halt the Germans’ momentum, the English convinced the Norwegian army to help drive the Germans out of Narvik. The fighting, in cold, inhumane conditions, killed thousands of soldiers and civilians. 

Narvik’s epilogue states that 85,000 people died, 65 boats sank, and 86 planes were shot down in the two-month battle. The Allied Forces won, handing Hitler his first loss of the campaign. 

However, the success was short-lived. The need to reinforce other war fronts forced the Allies to abandon the town. Defended by scattered and ill-equipped Norwegian forces, Narvik fell under German control several months later. 

The Tofte family in Narvik isn’t real. However, the characters’ experiences accurately depict the struggles of Narvik’s people. Caught in a foreign war, the Norwegians faced tough choices: to support the invaders or the liberators or flee their native land.