Too Much Norway, 2005

The first film on tap for A Luminous Century: Celebrating Norwegian Cinema was Rune Denstag and Sivge Endresen’s Too Much Norway, a film that, as a Norwegian American audience member appropriately pointed out, was a film “made for Norwegians, not for export.” Indeed, there are no indications of a National Geographic travelogue at work in Denstag and Endresen’s humorous and meditative essay: no picture postcard shots of the tundra, Lapps in costume, or national landmarks, but rather, (literally) launches from a certain familiarity and insight into the national history into a tongue-in-cheek reflection of the country’s nascent history since the dissolution of the union between Sweden and Norway in 1905. Told from the fictional perspective of an aging astronaut (played by artist and writer Odd Borretzen) who has lived throughout much of the country’s independent history, the film is an alternately self-effacing, whimsical, cheerful, and thoughtful portrait of a small, but wealthy and well-educated European country striving to make its mark on the world stage (through pioneering expeditions into – and subsequent annexations of territory within – the South Pole and excellence in Olympic games) while still struggling to define what it means to be Norwegian (an opening collage of multi-ethnic Norwegians dispels the myth of the country as a monoethnic society). In essence, it is this pervading spirit of self-reliance that would seem to define Norway’s history through its first century as an independent nation, not only from its separation from Sweden, but also recently, in its rejection of joining the European common market: a determination to retain its own sense of culture and national identity in an age of increasing globalization and interchangeable economic unions.

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