In tackling the real-life horror of a 2011 terrorist mass-shooting in Norway, Paul Greengrass’ Netflix film 22 July bravely approaches a topic most would be afraid to handle, considering 77 teenagers were murdered that day.
Speaking at Deadline’s The Contenders LA, 22 July’s editor William Goldenberg (Argo, The Imitation Game) discussed the film that sensitively focuses on the struggles of a survivor left half-blind after being shot five times.
“It was a subject that was very important to me,” he told Deadline’s Mike Fleming. “As a film editor I don’t get to do a lot politically. It’s hard to make a contribution in that arena…I thought if anybody was going to do this story in the right way, the tasteful way, it was going to be Paul.”
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Obviously the traumatic nature of the events depicted demanded a careful hand. “The thing we always talked about was restraint,” Goldenberg said. “We tried not to sensationalize anything, we just tried to be truthful and respectful.”
In choosing Netflix, Greengrass deliberately aimed at the largest possible audience for the film’s message. “He wanted a lot of people to see it,” Goldenberg said. “His younger kids said if you put this film in an arthouse, no younger people will see it–he’s got teenagers and some older ones–so that’s exactly why he went with Netflix.”
And it seems that the wider-reach plan has proven successful, with a reported 14.5 million Netflix accounts having watched, meaning it’s been seen by an estimated 30 million people at least. “We know that a lot of younger people have seen it,” Goldenberg said. “We made this film so a lot of young people would see it and open their eyes to what’s happening in the world.”
The uplifting takeaway to this telling of tragedy, the subsequent fight to bring the killer to justice, and the survivors’ defiant efforts to move forward, is, Goldenberg added, “that love really conquers hate.”
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