Oslo: HBO Movie Keeps Close To Theatrical Roots

Ruth Wilson in Oslo (Larry D. Horricks/HBO).

Oslo, the new film premiering on HBO and streaming on HBO Max, keeps close to its theatrical roots in revisiting the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords.

Listen, I’m not going to inject my opinion into this film. We all know how things have and haven’t changed since the accords. The timing is certainly a coincidence. Production was announced in November and dated on the schedule at the end of April. This is not a case of HBO deciding to take advantage of the newest round of escalation. Similarly, the recent theatrical release of The Human Factor is also a coincidence. Now, if you want to watch some documentary films that complement Oslo, I have no shortage of recommendations. Aside from The Human Factor, the other film I recommend is The Oslo Diaries. It’s also streaming on HBO Max. Incitement also takes a look at the fallout but from a different perspective.

“In this room, we forge peace or there will be no peace,” Joel Singer (Igal Naor), legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, says during the negotiations.

I’m not going to rehash the plot here. One Norweigian couple, Norwegian foreign minister Mona Juul (Ruth Wilson) and sociologist husband Terje Rød-Larsen (Andrew Scott), would start the back-channel negotiations between Israeli government and the PLO. At times, it may seem like things are falling apart. There is certainly no shortage of arguing. But, alas, this is how negotiations tend to go. Among the key players of the negotiations:

  • Uri Savir (Jeff Wilbusch), Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry
  • Joel Singer, legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry
  • Yair Hirschfield (Dov Glickman), Israeli professor of economics
  • Ron Pundak (Rotem Keinan), Hirschfield’s associate and fellow Israeli professor
  • Ahmed Qurie (Salim Daw), Finance Minister of the PLO
  • Hassan Asfour (Waleed Zuaiter), Qurie’s associate & PLO liaison
  • Shimon Peres (Sasson Gabay), Foreign Minister of the State of Israel

One thing to note about the agreement is that Israel said they would withdraw all the forces from Gaza. Ultimately, Israel would completely withdraw from Gaza in 2005, including all of the settlements. When it comes to Gaza, one thing that isn’t really discussed in the news or even among the American left is how Egypt is also participating in the blockade. Again, this is because of how Hamas forced out Fatah following the 2006 elections.

Aside from the scenes taking place outside, Oslo never quite feels cinematic in nature. Maybe this is because of the film’s theatrical roots on the stage. If anything, they could have tried to open it up so as to let it breathe a little bit. It’s always possible that the pandemic prevented this. I honestly don’t know to be honest. There’s a lot of arguing back and forth during the process of forming a document that both parties will be willing to sign.

Ultimately, Oslo ends with a document leading to the potential for peace. Israel accepts the PLO as the official voice of the Palestinians while the PLO recognizes the State of Israel. However, Jerusalem is left off to be addressed during future stages of negotiation. Without the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, the historic moment between Yitzhak Rabin Yasser and Arafat would never happen. As we all know, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995 would change everything. President Bill Clinton would go onto try again during meetings at Camp David in 2000 but could not come to an agreement. It’s really unfortunate. Anyway, this is where I really recommend watching The Human Factor. It continues story from the perspective of the Americans who worked to resolve peace for three decades.

DIRECTOR: Bartlett Sher
CAST: Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, Salim Daw, Waleed Zuaiter, Jeff Wilbusch, Igal Naor, Dov Glickman, Rotem Keinan, Itzik Cohen, Tobias Zilliacus, and Sasson Gabay

Oslo premiered May 29, 2021 on HBO and is streaming on HBO Max.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.