The Girl from Oslo

No end in sight

girl from oslo

Image: Netflix
Season 1 of The Girl from Oslo stars Anneke von der Lippe (center) as Alex, a diplomat and the mother of Pia, a Norwegian girl, who is kidnapped with her two Israeli friends by ISIS terrorists. The actress has since withdrawn from Season 2 because she does not want to be part of pro-Israeli content.

John Smistad
Olympia, Wash.

Synopsis: Pia and two Israeli siblings are kidnapped by terrorists in the Sinai desert. If 12 prisoners are not released, the three have been publicly threatened with death.

I do not pretend to be an expert on the political and historical details regarding the Middle East—except for that as long as I can remember it has been a place of relentless unrest and bloody conflict.

The 10-episode Netflix streaming series The Girl from Oslo (Norwegian title: Bortført, meaning “abducted”) brings to bear such dire dynamic in unflinching terms. This Norwegian production centers squarely on the ongoing hostilities between Israel and bordering Gaza. Where periodic bomb explosions in heavily populated communities are commonplace. Where some kids play on dirt streets in makeshift swings, as other children are rushed by stretcher, wounded and bleeding, into an ever-present waiting ambulance, its siren piercing the air of another typical day in the Gaza Strip.

This swiftly moving story revolves around Pia, a young Norwegian woman, and her two Israeli friends, a brother and sister. Pia is vacationing on the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. But her purpose in being there extends beyond leisurely basking on the beach with her buddies. Pia has someone she intends to call on. Someone who is most certainly not expecting her visit.

Before we know it the three are kidnapped by ISIS terrorists and held for ransom. The asking price? A dozen ISIS prisoners incarcerated in Israel.

As negotiations for the trio’s freedom tensely plays out, we learn many secrets about the principles involved. Almost everybody here has a past they regret. And they harbor secrets they wish to take to their graves— graves that could be dug at any moment in this perpetual powder keg of the world.

But at its core, The Girl from Oslo is about the unwavering ferocity of a mother’s love. Four in particular.

One who will stop at nothing to realize the release of her daughter, even risking a revelation that stands to ruin her very reputation. Along with a prominent member of Israeli government—one who has already lost a husband in service to one terrorist organization. And now stands to lose a son to another.

One who has witnessed with her own eyes unfathomable pain. And is fighting with every fiber of her being to prevent the horrific moment from happening yet again. It would be a vision from which we can not comprehend how she can possibly recover.

And one who has built with her husband a precious family and a wonderful home. Each of which she will be damned to allow be stripped away from her.

The final scene of The Girl from Oslo speaks volumes despite not a single word being uttered. For it amplifies the soul-scarring reality among the residents of this region of unceasing war-ravaged tumult: those rare moments of victory, of redemption both collectively and individually, are fated forever to be fleeting.

And that generation after generation of deeply ingrained hatred and resentment for “the other side” shall never, ever, know an end.

Editor’s note: Lead actress Anneke von der Lippe announced on Jan. 25 that she has withdrawn from Season 2 of the TV series The Girl from Oslo. She says she does not want to be part of pro-Israeli content.

The Norwegian-Israeli series’ first season aired on Norway’s TV 2 and Netflix.

“It’s because I have no guarantee of what the final result will be,” she said. “If there is a pro-Israeli project with content I cannot stand by, then I have to withdraw, and I do,” she said.

TV 2 stated that they are not involved in Season 2 of the series. TV 2 Press Manager Jan-Petter Dahl informed NTB that they were offered to be part of Season 2 but turned it down “based on our framework and needs.”

(Source: NTB)

This article originally appeared in the March 2024 issue of The Norwegian American.

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John Smistad

John Smistad is a published author of short stories, poems, essays, and movie reviews. He lives and loves with his family and cat in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. He is the fiercely proud son of a native Norwegian dad. (He loves his mom, too.) You can follow him as on his blog at