In 2009 Max Manus became the first Norwegian film ever to be chosen for a gala viewing at the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario.
Max Manus: Man of War is a 2008 Norwegian biographical war film based on the real events of resistance fighter Max Manus (9 December 1914 – 20 September 1996).
The story follows Manus (Aksel Hennie) from the Winter War against the Soviet Union, through the outbreak of World War II and the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany until peacetime in 1945. The film is based on Max Manus's own books, as well as other accounts and historical documentation.
The film stays largely historically accurate but omits some events and moves some of the supporting characters around to show them taking part in events in place of others. The production included approximately 1,800 extras and 2,000 workers behind the cameras.
The film's premiere was attended by King Harald V, "Tikken" Manus, Gunnar Sønsteby along other notable individuals. Reception from critics was largely positive, though some[who?] found the film to be too traditional and compared it unfavorably to the Danish film Flame & Citron. Max Manus also sparked a public debate about the role of the Norwegian resistance movement during the German occupation.
After fighting the Soviets as a volunteer during the Winter War in Finland, Max Manus, now haunted by his experiences there, returns to Norway, finding it occupied by the Nazis. He joins the Norwegian resistance movement in their fight against the Germans, producing illegal public propaganda. Still, his cell is soon detected, and he is arrested after jumping out a window. After being hospitalized, he manages to escape to Scotland. Before being sent back to Norway, he received British Commando training to carry out sabotage and disinformation missions against the occupying forces. Returning to Norway with his friend Gregers Gram, his first mission is an attack on German supply ships. He is spectacularly successful, and soon he becomes a particular target for the local Gestapo chief Siegfried Fehmer. Manus, however, avoids capture, and with Gram and Gunnar Sønsteby, he forms the so-called "Oslo Gang," and along with others, he receives a medal from the Norwegian king.
Stockholm in neutral Sweden becomes a meeting point for Norwegians in allied military service. Here Gram introduces Manus to "Tikken", a married woman who works as a Norwegian contact for the British consulate, and the two soon develop a close relationship. As the war becomes more and more brutal, many of Manus' friends lose their lives in the struggle against the Germans, and he starts to blame himself for being the one who survives. Late in the war, he sank the SS Donau, which was sunk on 16 January 1945. After the war, at a loss due to his poor prospects, he meets an imprisoned Fehmer and realizes that everyone is just a victim of the meaninglessness of war.