01-10-2018 12:11 am
It has been a few weeks since I blogged last. Since I started the new school year, my workload seems to have tripled. I've had national tests and a stack of assignments that never seems to end. The last few days, I've jam-packed my schedule with getting my assignments finished before my due dates roll around next week. Ridiculous way to spend my weekend doing my homework, but there is a reason for my homework-madness.
Today I watched the second 22 July movie, which is set to be released worldwide on Netflix in a couple of weeks. I have been preparing for the release of this movie for what seems like forever, and it has taken me most of the afternoon and evening just to sort through my jumbled thoughts and feelings. It was as bad as I was prepared that it would be, and it will probably take me how ever long to process. This movie leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination - parts of the movie are as brutally grotesque as the actual events, and in lots of ways felt like a propaganda movie highlighting the worst and the best of Norway. But as my mum explained to a few of the families that bravely met up today: this movie wasn't made for us (the bereaved families), or for Norway (the people of Norway) - this movie was made for the rest of the world.
A little about the movie: The 22 July movie is a dramatisation about the terrorist attacks in Norway in 2011, and in particular follows one of the Utøya survivors, Viljar Hanssen (and his family) and his fight to live. This movie is a summary of the terrorist attacks on the government building in Oslo that was bombed killing 8 people, the massacre shootings on Utøya killing 69 people (among them my older sister who was 14 years old), and the aftermath the first year which includes the criminal trial against Anders Behring Breivik (a.k.a murderer and terrorist) and an extreme amount of information about Breivik and his warped ideologies. All of the above and much, much more is jammed into 2 hours and 25 minutes.
What the movie doesn't tell you is that this movie doesn't illustrate in any way the lives of the 77 innocent people that were killed before the 22nd of July or the funerals, or the chaos during the first few hours or 24 hours after. This movie is kind of a window into the life of one of the main characters, Viljar who was shot 5 times by Breivik, and miraculously survived. Viljar represents the hundreds of people who were shot and survived, as well as the survivors who have since the attacks suffered the effects of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), and are living in each their own way every day.
The worst part about this movie: The brutality of the attacks in itself is exactly what you would imagine the 22nd of July to be like, but the worst part of the movie is that it left me with more questions than answers. I was 7 years old at the time, and my memories from the first year after my sister was killed are fragmented. I think one of the reasons that I have vivid memories of some events and not all, is that my mind has protected me from remembering the worst parts while my parents have filled in some of the gaps, this movie filled in others sort of like a jigsaw puzzle. There are a few things in the movie that didn't happen like the former Prime Ministers apology to the families. After listening to my mum shout loudly at the screen, I asked why she reacted to that part of the story and her reply: if only that part of the movie was true. Could it be that the film director, Paul Greengrass took some liberties with interpretating the truth?
Why in the world would I watch this movie knowing that this movie would hurt me? My parents could have easily gone through life never watching this movie. They were pretty clear already after the first movie that we watched in January that they had no desire to watch any more movies if they could avoid it. But unlike my parents, I have never been able to put all the events relating to the 22nd of July in chronological order. Most of what happened I was blissfully unaware of. The first few months after we buried Sharidyn, I had more than enough with just functioning at school. It was only because I wanted to watch this movie, that they lovingly agreed to take me.
I often write about my parents: I'm their kid, so it's not really strange. I try to be careful about what I share about my family, and my dad (who is my almighty boss for my blog) is pretty good at filtering me when I over-share but this is one blog-post I feel that I need to over-share. I sat next to my mum, and could see her out of the corner of my eye, crying silently. My heart ached for her - and for my sister. Every time she looked at me, I felt pain. I couldn't bring myself to look at my dad, who had his hand entwined tightly around mum's, and it seemed like it was planted there for the entire movie. Once again, I had asked my parents to dig deep into their souls and find the energy and strength to take me to see the movie. I wish upon a star or my angel-sister, that I could avoid these experiences, but I understand even more now than I did before the movie.
I understand some of what my parents have gone through, and I am in awe of them. Because what this movie explained to me is some of what my mum must of went through when Sharidyn called her, and when mum went to the victims centre (that is illustrated in the movie) to search for Sharidyn to name a few things - some of these things I knew nothing about at the time. Some things my parents have shared with me as I've gotten older and my curiosity has gotten the better of me. I know that my sister didn't just go to sleep one day and never wake up - I have always known that she was shot twice in her back while running from the monster that killed her. It is the part of her story that my parents made sure that I was the first to know. Sharidyn was 14 years old - the same age that I am now. I am old enough now to imagine what Sharidyn must of went through.
At the age of 14, some days I feel like I've lived an entire life time. I have experiences that no one my age has, which makes me an expert about me. My parents have chosen what some might classify as unconventional ways of helping us (me) to cope with losing my sister. They tried all the conventional ways - my mum even travelled to different countries to meet with some of the world's leading trauma-experts. We took a year from our every day life (then) to travel around the world for an entire year "following the sun", as my mum puts it, and we have lived a big part of the last 5 years living overseas. What most people don't know (or that we don't tell them), is that our world trip was sort of like my parents "alternative" coping strategy for our family.
I wish that we could have packed all our friends into our suitcases, and taken them with us because we weren't the only ones that were trying to rebuild our lives after the attacks. 18 months after the attacks, with the 22nd of July constantly in our faces every day, my parents had had enough. That is the part of our story that most people don't get. My mum had stood up for thousands of people during those 18 months, in particular my dad, my little sister and I and especially my big sister, Sharidyn. But while my mum was taking care of every one else, they forgot that my mum also needed a shoulder to lean on, besides my dad - that she needed to find an energy source to rebuild her life without Sharidyn, who was and will always be my mums first love.
My mum has an inner strength that I can never understand or how she has managed to keep us all functioning. She has given us a gift of life not just literally but also symbolically. Mum is my go-to-expert, my inspiration and one of the three people in my life that I know loves me always and forever. My mum is the strongest person I know, and while I might not always understand her reasons, her strategies to help us cope is the only reason why I can see a movie that I know would hurt me. Other people will never understand because the simple fact is: "you'll never walk the same mile in her shoes", and I hope that which ever God you pray to, that you never do. If I am ever a parent, I hope that I am an inch of the type of parents mine are wise and intuitive, kind-hearted, generous and loving, and always supportive even when the decisions that I make, are not always what they would have chosen for me.
Would I recommend this movie: This movie isn't for everyone but it is definitely a movie that every man, woman and teenager should be required to watch, if for no other reason than that one thing this movie can teach my generation is cause and effect of extremism. As much as I strongly disliked the parts of the movie that focused on Breivik and his twisted ideologies it was a part of the story that is important for future generations to watch. He is an example of how extreme and hateful ideas can destroy lives, all because he couldnt deal with the fact that Norway is a multi-cultural society like most countries. He decided to play God and take it upon himself like the facist he is, to decide the fate of 77 people, most of them children. That more people didn't die on the 22nd of July (which was his intention) is a miracle.
While some might think that extremists like Breivik threaten our democracy, I truly believe that indifference is a bigger threat. Ignoring people like Breivik can be just as dangerous as giving him a microphone to spout his rubbish, and this movie definitely gives him a different scene to share his twisted thoughts. But what you probably won't realise straight away, is that Breivik is nothing more than a pathetic man who murdered children, parents other people's loved ones, most of them were his fellow countrymen - ethnic Norwegians (just like him) who he decided to classify as an elite class. His entire reasoning is so completely absurd, and yet he is not the first person in the world or history to think his thoughts.
So would I recommend this movie, yes. But there are two things that you should never forget if you choose to watch it:
1. It is a dramatisation of some of the events that happened in the first year after the terrorist attacks, and Viljars story is one of thousands of stories relating to the 22nd of July. My families story is another.
2. Please remember the victims and their families. Years might have passed, but the wounds are still deep. If nothing else, I hope that if you watch this movie, maybe then you can appreciate a little of what my family has been surviving for the last 7 years. No amount of time that passes can simply erase the trauma of what we have been through. That we all exist, I think is a miracle in itself.
In loving memory of the 77 innocent victims of 22 July terrorist attacks in Oslo and Utøya, Norway ❤