Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Ending Of Narvik Explained

The best war movies ever made focus just as much attention on small, individual struggles as they do massive battles. It's the characters, not the action, that grip the audience's imagination and stay with them long after the credits roll. By that measure, "Narvik," from Norwegian director Erik Skjoldbjærg, might be one of the best World War II movies about the first battle that Adolf Hitler ever lost.

"Narvik" tells the story of how Allied forces retook the titular town by following the lives of the Tofte family. Gunnar is a young member of the Norwegian military who's more than willing to risk his life to defeat the Nazis. His wife Ingrid, meanwhile, is caught up in political tensions and rampant bombings while trying to look after their son Ole back at home.

"Narvik" has "Battlefield V" fans buzzing because one of the game's maps recreates the film's battle, but it's the characters, brutal action, and stunning cinematography that have made Skjoldbjærg's movie a global sensation. The Battle of Narvik was far from the end of the war, but a quick breakdown of the movie's ending will help explain where everyone might be headed next and what history had in store for the people of Narvik.

Why didn't the Germans label Ingrid a traitor?

The events of "Narvik" make it clear that the Nazi forces occupying the Norwegian coastal town don't take kindly to anyone who opposes them. Gunnar's fellow soldiers tell him that the Germans are notorious for killing their prisoners, and back in town Ingrid witnesses consul Fritz threaten the mayor with being tried for treason when he argues against new rules for his people.

When Ingrid later admits to Fritz that she knows where the English consul has been hiding, she's taking an extreme risk. Ingrid hopes she'll be able to exchange the information for medical treatment for her son, but based on everything she's witnessed, it seems equally likely the German soldiers will shoot her for helping the consul hide for more than a month. In her situation, Ingrid really has no choice but to hope the Germans will be forgiving, but why do they choose to let her off the hook?

Luckily for Ingrid, Fritz has romantic feelings for her. He can't be in a relationship with a traitor, so he probably plays down her involvement when he speaks to the general. He thinks that helping her might get her to fall in love with him. At the same time, the Nazis still intend on occupying Narvik for some time, so they want to incentivize the people there to work with them more than they want to punish temporary disobedience.

Did the Germans really believe Gunnar was dead?

Early in the movie, Ingrid sees Gunnar held at gunpoint by a group of German soldiers, but she's escorted away before finding out whether or not her husband is killed. Later on she asks consul Fritz to get the information for her, and near the end of the film he confirms that the Nazis have listed Gunnar as a dead prisoner of war.

Of course, by that point, the audience knows that Gunnar is very much alive, but Ingrid is devastated by the news. A cynical interpretation of the scene might be that Fritz is lying to her. Fritz has made his interest in Ingrid very clear, and after telling her about Gunnar's death, he asks her to leave Narvik with him. It's possible that in the rush to abandon the town, Fritz simply takes an opportunity to manipulate Ingrid's feelings.

At the same time, "Narvik" makes the confusion and chaos of war completely clear on multiple occasions. It doesn't take a big leap to assume that the Germans list Gunnar among the dead by mistake, and though Fritz is definitely a low-level villain, he hasn't been shown to be a liar throughout the film. He may have been telling Ingrid what he thought was the truth, but ultimately it doesn't make a difference either way.

Why didn't Ingrid leave with consul Fritz?

By the time the Norwegian soldiers are prepared to retake Narvik and the Germans are evacuating the city, Ingrid finds herself in a desperate situation. Her house has been destroyed, her father-in-law is dead, and the entire town has turned against her because she traded the English consul for her son's medical treatment. Ingrid is already at her wit's end when consul Fritz tells her that Gunnar is dead and offers to take her out of the city.

Leaving town with Fritz might be the most logical and safest choice for Ingrid, but she turns him down and chooses to handle leaving town herself. Her decision seems risky, and it might confuse the other townspeople who think that Ingrid is a German loyalist, but it makes complete sense based on everything the film has shown about her.

Despite what the townspeople come to think of Ingrid, she's never been loyal to Germany. She also isn't particularly loyal to Norway or the Allies. More than anything, Ingrid cares about her family, so there was never any chance that she'd leave the area with Fritz. She might still be holding out some hope that Gunnar is alive, but even if he isn't, she'd rather take her son to live with her family in the north than abandon the area altogether.

How did the Norwegians retake Narvik?

"Narvik" breaks up its story, shifting between different characters at different points in time. At certain moments it might seem like the movie is detouring down side plots that don't actually matter, but just about everything that happens in the film ties back to how the Norwegians manage to retake Narvik from the Germans.

Gunnar's first big mission in the movie is to blow up the train bridge that leads into Narvik. By destroying the bridge, Gunnar and his comrades all but guarantee that additional German forces can't get into the town because the British are already forming a blockade at the port. After that, the movie shifts to Ingrid's perspective. She helps find the English consul a place to hide, and later she sneaks a map of the German artillery locations to him and his team. Without her involvement, British soldiers would never set foot in Narvik.

Those two decisions from Gunnar and Ingrid lay the groundwork for everything that follows. When the movie goes back to following Gunnar, the French and British soldiers have arrived, and through weeks of brutal fighting they're able to deplete the German forces. Meanwhile, the rest of Ingrid's story back in town shows that no matter who's winning, civilians caught up in war suffer. Overall the movie's various plot threads show that Narvik becomes a victory for the Allies because of small choices made by brave individuals.

Why didn't Ingrid explain everything to Gunnar?

Ingrid's experience of the Battle of Narvik probably leaves her with emotional whiplash. Shortly after getting to spend a night with her husband, she sees him held at gunpoint. Then when the British come to defend her town, one of their shells ends up blasting through her home and killing her father-in-law. The final back-and-forth is learning about her husband's death, only to see him standing in front of her a few days later.

It's a borderline miracle that Ingrid can think clearly enough to pack her bags and leave town, so she can be forgiven for not explaining the situation to Gunnar all that well. When he returns home, he doesn't understand why she thinks they need to leave Narvik so quickly. She tries to avoid telling him about the deal she made with the Nazis for Ole's medical treatment, and the two end up in a massive fight.

The argument is a pretty typical third act conflict, but it's also something that might be easily avoided if either Ingrid or Gunnar are less stressed when they start their conversation. Even though Gunnar momentarily seems willing to trade Ole's life to frustrate the Nazis' plans, he completely rethinks that reasoning just moments later. All in all, the fight makes for a dramatic moment, but it doesn't have much of an effect on Ingrid's and Gunnar's relationship.

Why did Gunnar leave with Ingrid?

Gunnar is horrified when he learns that Ingrid cooperated with the German military and gave up the hiding place of the English consul. He sees her choice as a betrayal of everything that he's worked for during the battle, and it's clear that he takes it very personally. During their conversation, Gunnar even implies that it would have been better to let their son Ole die than to give the Germans what they wanted.

Gunnar's reaction is extreme, yet just minutes later — in movie time — he's leaving Narvik and his career in the Norwegian military behind to go with his wife and son. What might seem like a drastic shift in character is actually the result of Gunnar's loyalty to his military friends. Major Omdal gives a rallying speech telling his men that they should be willing to sacrifice everything they love to protect what's most important. Omdal is talking about Norway, but when Gunnar hears the speech, he thinks about Ingrid and Ole. The words of his commanding officer convince Gunnar that even though he loves Norway and his life in the military, he needs to sacrifice it all to take care of his family.

How did Gunnar get out of the military?

"Narvik" spends time explaining why Gunnar decides to leave the military, but it doesn't actually show how he gets himself out of duty. At the beginning of the film, Major Omdal allows Gunnar to take a night of leave to see his wife and son — even though the soldiers have been ordered back to their barracks — but it doesn't seem likely that he'll be as understanding after the battle as he was before. After all, at one point during the fight the Major threatens to shoot any of his men who try to retreat.

It's easy to think that once Narvik has been secured, the Major will go back to his softer, more understanding ways. But judging by the intensity of his speech, he has every intention of carrying on the fight throughout Norway for as long as it takes to beat the Nazis. This is probably a time where it's better to ask forgiveness than permission, and Gunnar more than likely slips away and runs to Ingrid and Ole without telling anyone.

Where will Ingrid and Gunnar go now?

In the heat of the moment, Gunnar and Ingrid are only concerned about getting themselves and Ole out of town. They know that more fighting and bombing is sure to come to Narvik, so as long as they get out of the town, they don't really care where they end up. The boat they get on at the end of the movie is likely just taking them to the next town over.

After that, the couple has to have a serious conversation about where they want to spend their lives. It's been made clear that Ingrid has family north of Narvik, so that makes sense as their first stopping place, but it's not so clear that the two of them would want to stay there indefinitely. We know that not long after the Battle of Narvik, the Nazis came to control Norway (via Britannica) for the rest of World War II. Ingrid and Gunnar might not want to stay in occupied territory, but at the same time, they probably don't have access to very many ways to safely leave the country. They probably end up stuck with Ingrid's family at least until the end of the war.

What will happen to Gunnar's fellow soldiers?

Gunnar probably isn't the only soldier who decides he has different priorities after saving Narvik. Knowing what we do now about the war, maybe it would have been better for everyone involved if the soldiers returned to their families and focused on keeping them as safe as possible. As it is, no matter how many of Gunnar's comrades leave for other obligations, the army will go on fighting until the Nazis win control of Norway.

It's worth noting that even though "Narvik" is more historically accurate than most films, the actual characters involved in the movie aren't. According to The Cinemaholic, Gunnar and his family aren't based on real people, even though there's no doubt that real people went through very similar circumstances. Because of that, it's impossible to say for certain what will happen next to the men Gunnar fought alongside. We know that many real soldiers died in battle against the Nazis before Norway was captured, while others continued the fight in other countries throughout Europe.

Why did the British and French leave Narvik?

Retaking Narvik from the Nazis was a group effort. Soldiers like Gunnar gave their all to protect their home, but if they'd been fighting alone they probably would have lost. British and French forces were instrumental in retaking the town, and after the initial victory, many townspeople probably looked forward to having their help keeping things together as the war continued to drag on.

Unfortunately, that's not how events played out. As the movie states, not long after winning Narvik, Britain and France left Norway entirely. Hitler timed his assault on France and other parts of western Europe just after the Battle of Narvik, forcing countries to abandon their allies in order to save themselves (via Britannica). The king of Norway even sent his own soldiers off to protect other nations, inadvertently allowing the Nazis to seize control of the country with 300,000 troops.

If Britain and France had stayed in Norway, there's a good chance that Germany's troops wouldn't have been able to hold onto the territory, but the losses back in their home countries might have been even more severe. There was no good option for anyone involved, but that still left Norway in a terrible position.

How long did Narvik stand after the victory?

Norway itself eventually fell under Nazi control, but Narvik especially suffered. The end of the movie explains that the town was bombed by German planes after the British and French left. Everything from buildings to streets to ports got utterly destroyed by the bombardment, but that didn't stop the people of Narvik from rebuilding after the war (per Britannica) had finished.

The entire process of invasion, fighting, victory, and destruction played out over the course of just two months. The Nazis claimed the town on April 9, just as the British were preparing to lay bombs all around the port. The sea battle was easily won by the British, and five days after the fighting began Allied troops joined the Norwegian forces on the ground. The battle lasted over a month. It wasn't until May 27 that the German soldiers were defeated and Narvik was reclaimed by Norway.

Sadly, Narvik didn't hold out much longer after the victory, and neither did Norway itself. On June 7, according to Britannica, the Allied troops left for France, and the king of Norway left his country for Londo. Just three days later the Nazis took control of the entire country, and Narvik was destroyed.

How important was the Battle of Narvik to the rest of WWII?

It might seem like the Battle of Narvik hardly mattered because of how quickly the Nazis were able to reclaim the town and the entire country. In reality, though, Narvik played an important role in the entire course of World War II, and without the brief victory at the port town, the war might have played out very differently.

One of the most important ways that the Battle of Narvik changed the course of the war is that it provided a major morale boost to the Allied forces. Narvik is known as the place where Hitler suffered his first loss during the war. Being able to beat the Nazis in such an important place let the Allies know that victory across the board was possible.

Even though the Nazis eventually reclaimed Narvik and took control of Norway, the losses they suffered during the initial battle were significant. Nearly half of all Nazi destroyers were lost in the sea battle just outside of Narvik (via Warfare History Network). Those numbers were a tremendous blow to the German navy, which never really managed to recover from it. With a sizable portion of their ships lost, the Nazis had to drastically reduce any plans they had for sea battles throughout the rest of the war, which opened new avenues for attack from the Allies. Narvik may have been a temporary victory for the Allies, but it was also a decisive one.