The 12th Man (film)

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The 12th Man
The 12th Man (film).jpg
Directed byHarald Zwart
Produced by
  • Veslemøy Ruud Zwart
  • Espen Horn
  • Aage Aaberge
Screenplay byPetter Skavlan [no] (credited as Alex Boe)[1]
Based on
Jan Baalsrud and Those Who Saved Him
  • Tore Haug
  • Astrid Karlsen Scott
Music byChristophe Beck
CinematographyGeir Hartly Andreassen
Edited byJens Christian Fodstad
Distributed byIFC Midnight
Release date
  • 25 December 2017 (2017-12-25)
Running time
135 minutes
Budget64 million Norwegian krone
Box office$9.6 million (Norway)[2]

The 12th Man (Norwegian: Den 12. mann) is a 2017 Norwegian historical drama directed by Harald Zwart. (Shooting script by Harald Zwart). Thomas Gullestad stars as the protagonist Jan Baalsrud, who escapes from Germans in Rebbenesøya, via Lyngen Fjord and Manndalen, to neutral Sweden in the spring of 1943.

The film, which is based on historical events, was adapted from the book Jan Baalsrud and Those Who Saved Him (2001), written by Tore Haug and Astrid Karlsen Scott.[3] Producer Veslemoey Ruud Zwart secured the film rights for this book in 2004.

The book and its film adaptation have the same protagonist as Arne Skouen's Oscar-nominated film Nine Lives (1957), in which Baalrud's courage and stamina were also emphasized. Jan Baalsrud's story was also told in We Die Alone by David Howarth.

Unlike the book it is based on, The 12th Man heavily emphasizes the efforts of those who helped Baalsrud escape, which is in line with Baalsrud's own statements about the local population's courage. The 12th Man's plot also details the pursuit of Baalsrud from the Gestapo leadership's perspective, and so depicts the escape as a cat-and-mouse game between Sturmbannführer Kurt Stage and Baalsrud.

According to German documents, the Nazis believed that the entire resistance group had perished in a blast, meaning that there are no reports indicating that the Germans even knew to hunt for Baalsrud. Baalsrud himself, however, claims that he killed two German soldiers in the fight, which would have definitely created a sharp German response.[4]


The 12th Man tells the dramatic story of Jan Baalsrud's escape from the Nazis during World War II.

In Shetland, 12 Norwegian resistance fighters board a fishing boat with eight tons of TNT and cross the North Sea to sabotage German military facilities. The mission gets into trouble soon after reaching Norway, where their local contact is long dead and their identity is compromised by a German sympathiser who immediately informs the Germans about their arrival.

A German warship locates the fishing boat and opens fire. The resistance fighters ignite the TNT and jump into the water near the fjord. Eleven of the fighters are rounded up by the Germans on the beach. One is shot on the spot, and 10 are captured. Two die from torture while being interrogated, the other captive fighters are executed on Tromsøya, after the German officers interrogate and torture them about their mission.

The 12th resistance fighter, Jan Baalsrud, manages to escape by hiding and swimming across the fjord, in sub freezing temperatures, to the nearest island. He receives assistance from locals who risk their own lives to help Baalsrud, who manages to escape from Rebbenesøya to Sweden, via Lyngenhalvøya and Manndalen.[5]


In March 2004, producer Veslemøy Ruud Zwart secured the film rights to the book Jan Baalsrud and Those Who Saved Him.[6] Filming began by April 2016.[7]

Thomas Gullestad adopted a strict diet regimen to play the lead role.[8]



Movie has 86% on rotten Tomatoes, and 5 stars on iTunes

Pete Hammond - Deadline

The Times (UK) 4 out of 5 stars

Village Voice



LA Times

LA weekly

New York Times


  1. ^ Dennis Harvey (2018-05-02). "Film Review: 'The 12th Man'". Variety.
  2. ^ "Movies: The 12th Man". Box Office Mojo.
  3. ^ Haug, Tore; Astrid Karlsen Scott (2001). Jan Baalsrud and Those Who Saved Him. ISBN 9788205297524.
  4. ^ Kvam, Ragnar Jr. (2 January 2018). "Tyskerne jaktet ikke på Jan Baalsrud" [The Germans did not hunt Jan Baalsrud]. Aftenposten. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Incredibly, the jaw-dropping scenes in this vivid WWII survivalist film are true". Times of Israel. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  6. ^ Fredriksen, Rune (1 March 2006). "Zwart vil lage 'Ni Liv' på nytt" [Zwart will create 'Nine Lives' again]. NRK. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  7. ^ Selås, Jon (20 April 2016). "Magert helvete for Thomas «Finger'n» Gullestad under innspilling av «Den 12. mann»" [Magert Hell for Thomas "Finger'n" Gold City while recording "The 12th Man"]. Verdens Gang. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  8. ^ Alnes, Espen (2016-02-22). "Han skal spele Jan Baalsrud". NRK (in Norwegian Nynorsk). Retrieved 2018-12-28. Thomas Gullestad må ned 15 kilo før han skal spele Jan Baalsrud på film.

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