Is Narvik a true story? The real details behind the Netflix World War Two drama

Carl Martin Eggesbø as Gunnar Tofte alongside his fellow soldiers in Narvik
Narvik is a World War Two drama now streaming on Netflix. (Image credit: Netflix)

Wondering whether Narvik is a true story? Here's what you need to know about the Netflix historical drama.

Following in the footsteps of All Quiet on the Western Front, another war drama climbed into the top films on Netflix. Narvik is a Norwegian war epic that takes place during the German occupation — and subsequent Norwegian recapture— of the titular town which served as the source of iron ore for Hitler's war machinery. 

In documenting the Battle of Narvik, the film presents events from the battle whilst also telling a personal story of a husband and wife who found themselves playing two very different roles as part of the conflict. 

So, is Narvik a true story? Were Ingrid and Gunnar Tofte real people? We've got all the answers below.

Is Narvik a true story?

Gunnar Tofte hugging his son, Ole in Narvik.

Gunna Tofte with his son, Ole.  (Image credit: Netflix)

In a word, yes. Narvik uses the backdrop of the Battle of Narvik to tell a small-scale story about the Tofte family. In doing so, the film shows both the experience of the Norwegian soldiers who joined the army whilst Norway was still neutral, along with that of the civilians trying to survive the German occupation of the town in the spring of 1940. 

Narvik is a small town that garnered a lot of interest during World War Two owing to its location as the closest ice-free port to Sweden's iron mines. The ore was crucial to the production of German munitions and they overwhelmed the smaller Norwegian army to take control of the town. 

Over two months, Allied troops waged a two-month battle to recapture it, making the battle the Allies' first significant victory of World War Two. (Though, as the film's ending makes clear, Narvik was later recaptured after British and French forces redirected efforts toward France).

The story about the Tofte family is fictional (more on that below), but the actual battle itself was a historical event that saw more than 25,000 Norwegians and Allied soldiers fighting side by side against the German forces in a campaign that led to the death of 8500 soldiers. 

The film depicts a number of events A more detailed account of the real battle can be found on the Visit Narvik website.  (opens in new tab)

Where is Narvik found?

Ingrid Tofte (Kristine Hartgen) looks left in Narvik

Ingrid Tofte.  (Image credit: Netflix)

The two primary figures in Narvik are Ingrid and Gunnar Tofte. Ingrid works in a hotel in the town and is subsequently compelled to serve as a translator owing to her knowledge of the German, English, and Norwegian languages. At a later point, she's also asked to ferry information back to British diplomats, who escape the town. 

Meanwhile, her husband Gunnar finds himself caught up in the battle itself. Like many soldiers, he was returning home to Narvik before the German forces arrived. In the film, he resists the Germans but is captured and made a POW, though he eventually makes it back to his family

If you were drawn into the Tofte family's story, we've got some bad news: Ingrid and Gunnar Tofte aren't real people. 

Along with the other citizens of Narvik who appear in the film, Ingrid and Gunnar Tofte were invented for the film with the view of demonstrating the struggle that many Norwegians experienced at the time and the difficult decision they faced whilst German forces occupied the town. 

As Netflix put it over on Tudum (opens in new tab): "Under German occupation from 1940 to 1945, many Norwegians faced agonizing choices over whether to collaborate or resist, and while the Toftes are not people, they represent the many Norwegian families caught up both in the Battle of Narvik and the years of war that followed."

Narvik is now available to stream on Netflix. 

Martin Shore
Staff Writer at WhatToWatch.com

Martin is a Staff Writer with WhatToWatch.com, where he produces a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows. 

Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.