Russia has protested the “unfortunate” decision to portray it as the aggressor in "Okkupert" or "Occupied”, the 90m Norwegian kroner TV mini-series conceived of by the crime writer Jo Nesbø.
The drama follows Norway’s occupation by the Russian army, with the support of the broader international community, after a radical environmental party is voted into power and halts all oil and gas production.
On Tuesday, TV2 released a trailer for the series, which will premiere on Norway’s TV2 channel on September 27.
“Russia is unfortunately presented as the aggressor,” Andrey Kulikov, a press officer at the Russian embassy in Oslo told TV2 of the series.
“It is of course a pity that on the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II,” he adds, “the show’s writers decide to intimidate Norwegian viewers with a non-existent threat from the East.”
In the story, the Russian occupiers, while keeping control over the oil and gas industry, otherwise allow daily life to continue more or less as normal.
Nesbø wrote the first episodes for the series back in 2008, long before Russia’s annexation of Crimea made the idea of a Russian invasion of northern Norway, or the Swedish island of Gotland suddenly feel very real.
But the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK dropped the series, after which TV2 stepped in.
While some of the plot ideas come from Nesbø’s original scripts, the final version was written by Kari Anne Lund and Erik Skjoldbjærg, the series’ director, who also shot the Hollywood film Prozac Nation.
The series has been made in collaboration with Yellow Bird, the Swedish production studio behind the Wallander detective series and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films.
It is Norway’s most expensive TV series to date, costing well over twice the 36m kroner budget of Mammon, the country’s last internationally exported TV drama.
The series has already been sold the UK, where the success of Danish dramas such as The Killing and Borgen has established a niche for Scandinavian TV drama, and in Germany, France, Seden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and the Benelux countries.
Kulikov said that the decision to portray Russia so negatively in an anniversary year, made it seen “as if they have forgotten about the heroism of the Soviet Army in the liberation of Northern Norway from Nazi occupiers.”
However, he said Russia would not respond to the series with formal protests or reprisals.
“One should not expect any hysteria from the Russian side in this regard - it is not our style.”
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