Poking at the bear

Foreground | Norway airs a realpolitik TV drama

Mr Putin, we presume (Photo: TV 2)

Sometimes, it is the events of the near future that capture the imagination most. Unlike sci-fi, scenarios that are set ‘in a not-to-distant future’ must resemble the present to a large degree, and their plots thus have an element of plausibility.

Perhaps that is why Russia, ever the villain in European and American film and television, has, uncharacteristically, reacted strongly against Okkupert, a Norwegian television series that begins airing on September 27.

Set “in the near future”, the 10-epiosde series envisions a Norway that finds itself occupied (hence the series title) by Russia, after Oslo halts gas and oil production, throwing the market into turmoil.

SEE TRAILER for Okkupert at end of article

The series’ creators, heavy hitters of Nordic Noir (one of them is Jo Nesbø, a wildly popular crime novelist), have stressed that the plot is fictional. What has irked Moscow, however, is that unlike some Cold War (and post-Cold War) films, the plot of Okkupert is not unbelievable.

“Although the creators of the TV series were at pains to stress that the plot is fictitious and allegedly has nothing to do with reality, the film shows quite specific countries, and Russia, unfortunately, was given the role of an aggressor,” a statement issued by the Russian Embassy in Oslo stated.

Like all good fiction, the series is, the authors admit, inspired by real-world events. In this case, the annexation of Crimea and the unrest in eastern Ukraine. But instead of demonising Russia, the point, Mr Nesbø has explained, is to explore whether Norwegians would stand up to an occupying force, if they were permitted to continue functioning as autonomous state, as is apparently the case in the series: Russia’s occupation is more about controlling energy supplies than it is territorial aggrandisement.

Were this the near future, it might be the case that Moscow would look at Okkupert the same way the Norwegians do. However, in the current political climate, it should have come as no surprise that the Kremlin was provoked by Occupied.

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This article originally appeared on The Arctic Journal.

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