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How Soon Is Too Soon for a Movie of Real-Life Trauma?

Norway has struggled in recent years to pay tribute to victims of the attack. A planned memorial near Utoya was canceled after public complaints, and many have argued that the media’s focus on Mr. Breivik, who has filed complaints about his treatment in prison and recently changed his name to Fjotolf Hansen, has taken attention away from the victims. “I realized there should be a story from the young people’s perspectives entirely, that brings that into our collective memory again,” Mr. Poppe said.

“U — July 22” is a rigorously faithful reconstruction of the events on the island. It closely follows a fictional 19-year-old named Kaja (Andrea Berntzen), who is separated from her younger sister when the attack begins, and is forced to scramble for shelter — in a small building, among trees and along the island’s rocky shoreline — as others are murdered around her. In an impressive technical feat, the 90-minute film was recorded in one take, with two invisible cuts to hide geographical differences between Utoya and the neighboring island on which it was filmed.

When Mr. Poppe first approached the national support group for victims of the July 22 attacks about his plans to make a film, some members of the group voiced concerns that not enough time had passed. “We were worried it might be too early, because many people want to shield themselves,” said Lisbeth Royneland, the chair of the group’s board.


“It wasn’t just an attack on those

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