War Sailor review: A gut-wrenching slow burn

In War Sailor, Alfred and his best friend, Sigbjørn, get caught in a war during Germany’s invasion of Norway as they sail on the Norwegian ships in the Atlantic Ocean. The mini-series is now streaming on Netflix.


In 1939, in Bergen, seven months before the German occupation of Norway, Alfred realizes that working as a laborer won’t help him make enough money for his family of five.

Alfred’s best friend, Sigbjørn, asks him to join him on the ship that is going to sail in the Atlantic Ocean so that he can provide for his family. Working on the ship means being away from the family for eighteen-long months. 

Alfred is afraid that his wife, Cecilia, may not allow him, but she understands their condition and lets him join Sigbjørn. Only Alfred’s daughter, Maggie, knows the danger her father is walking into.

Alfred likes to think that he will be back in eighteen months and will reunite with his family, but with the Germans invading Norway, things get tight. Ships are destroyed, people lose their lives, and Alfred’s dream of reuniting with his family starts fading away.


Kristoffer Joner puts on a heart-breaking performance as Alfred, along with Pål Sverre Hagen as Sigbjørn, who stays true to his role as the supporting character.

Joner and Hagen go through a captivating journey together. Throughout this journey, one can notice the changes their friendship goes through. 

Joner and Hagen go through this change naturally, and they give a teary end to this friendship, where, without dialogues, they are able to portray an array of feelings their characters have.

Kristoffer Joner capably portrays the responsible father’s role, who sees the children around him as his own; they become his fighting spirit during the war. 

In the end, when Alfred loses the love he once received from his family, Joner brilliantly puts forth how devastating it is for a father who spent days away from them just so that he could provide for them. Let it be while wandering off into the unknown or while pouring out his frustration on his own son and wife.


War Sailor isn’t about the people trying to make a change during World War II. It is more about the lives of ordinary people who are trying to figure out how they are going to spend another day during war times. The environment at Alfred’s house heavily implies that.

War Sailor sticks to this one notion and doesn’t get distracted from it when several disastrous moments turn the lives of the characters portrayed upside down. 

A scene that shows a ballet dancer dancing cuts immediately to how he dies, suggesting how uncertain life was for these sailors. At the same time, the series attempts to reflect how important it was for these sailors to keep this job to make enough money for their families.

Situations like these make the characters wonder if they should stay or leave. The determination of the characters makes the viewers want to root for them.

Furthermore, the conversations between the sailors from back then are written beautifully at times. These conversations establish how they have formed a family away from their real family.

While Alfred’s story takes center stage, the viewers are also treated with what happens to his family while he is away. The struggles his wife Cecilia goes through to raise the children on her own and the amount of patience she keeps knowing that her husband may not return is distressing.

Lastly, the attacks on ships, Alfred losing his friends, and his condition after facing the horrors of the war are some of the agonizing scenes.


War Sailor heavily suffers only because of its slow pace. It allows the characters to speak through their reactions, but this slow pace consumes a lot of unnecessary time in certain scenes.

Apart from that, not every viewer will have the attention span that is required to enjoy War Sailor, owing to this slow pace.


War Sailor is not a show that has a character who has a certain goal in mind or a story to tell. It is more of a dive into the life of an ordinary person from World War II. If you get comfortable with the slow pace, the series promises to leave a long-lasting impact on you.

War Sailor
War Sailor review: A gut-wrenching slow burn 1

Director: Gunnar Vikene

Date Created: 2023-04-02 12:30

Editor's Rating:

Also Read: War Sailor ending explained: Does Alfred return home?

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