Reel Norden : Nordic Film & History

Max Manus -- Settings, Details & Design

Max Manus is a film covering the resistance movement in Norway against Nazi occupation during World War II. The film is centered on Max Manus, a Norwegian national hero, and based on the books that Manus wrote about his experiences. This analysis will serve to compare the visual details of the film to the real life uniforms and locations.


The uniforms worn by the characters in the film were relatively accurate in comparison to the real life clothing and uniforms worn during the 1940s. In the film, Max Manus is trained at the first Norwegian independent company, otherwise known at NOR.I.C.1 or Kompani Linge.(1) The photo on the left depicts some Norwegian resistance fighters in Oslo, Norway in 1945. The following photo shows King Haakon VII and Crown Prince Olav at the Kompani Linge training facility in 1944. When comparing the uniforms that are worn by the characters in the film, there are many similarities. The most noticeable, is the placement of the front breast pockets. Another similarity is the stars that appear on Crown Prince Olav’s collar. Ranked officials and resistance fighters receive stars, and one can be seen on Manus’ collar in the film. As seen in the photos, there are also different types of hats. The Crown Prince wears a less structured, beret-type hat, which is not seen in the film. However, the second man on the left in the first photo appears to be wearing a hat more similar to the hat that Manus wears. The uniforms are fairly accurate, notably missing the Norwegian flag that is not added to the uniform until after the war is over in the film.

The costume designers did an excellent job designing the costume worn by the actor who played King Haakon VII. When compared side by side, many similarities can be seen. The collar is a lighter color with three stars on each side, the hat is very structured and has a black visor, and the pocket placement is also accurate. Other similar features include the thick belt and leather belt-sash across the front, and the king’s black leather gloves. Research was clearly done for the costume designs, and specifically for King Haakon VII’s uniform as it appears very similar to his actual uniform.

Filming Locations

The scene where the German Soldiers walk through Karl Johan was an actual event. The scene was filmed at the same location that event took place, Karl Johans gate, the main street in the city of Oslo. Furthermore, since Karl Johans gate is such a well-preserved street the architecture appears the same as it does in the film.

German propaganda was everywhere around the city, one example is the parliament in Oslo. The film depicts this very well, as they used the same parliament building as the one in 1941. The German propaganda in 1941 is very similar to the propaganda used in the film. The filmmakers have a Nazi flag on top, and the same phrase is featured on the building. This says, “Deutschland Siegt an allen Fronten,” meaning “Germany wins at all fronts.” The “V” symbol is also placed above this propaganda phrase in both real life and the film. This “V” stands for victory for Nazi Germany.

Max Manus was the highest budget movie in Norwegian history with 50 million kroner. The film was mainly shot in Oslo where most of the actual events took place. For the scenes when the characters traveled to Sweden, the director used old film footage of Sweden to help to keep an authentic feeling. The Norwegian Resistance Museum also provided an advisory role in the film as well as Max’s wife, Tikken, and his friend, Gunnar Stonsby.(2)  Max Manus had over 1800 extras, they added Nazi propaganda at different places in Oslo, such as the parliament. They did this to create a realistic Oslo depicting the Nazi period. The script of the film is based on two books that Max Manus wrote about World War II, and the script won several awards.(3)

Overall, the director did a fantastic job with its setting in portraying what life really looked like for Norway during World War II. The costumes worn by the actors are fairly accurate as well. When comparing the visual details of the film to real life, it is clear that the director and the people involved in making this film did their research. This research and accuracy helps to create a more authentic setting and gives the audience a chance to travel back in time to Scandinavia during World War II. Max Manus remains an important figure in Norwegian history, and this film helps to shed light on the role that he played.

(1) Amanda Ruggeri, "The Surprising Place Where WWII Agents Learnt to Fight Nazis," (BBC News, January 12, 2017), accessed April 21, 2017,
(2) Luke Hurley, "Max Manus: Man of War (2008)," World Press, January 28, 2013, accessed April 21, 2017,
(3)"Max manus filmen," Max Manus filmen, accessed April 21, 2017,

Written and edited by Grete Hamnes, Ulrik Sagbakken, Morgan Kelly and Katie Tuel.


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