The King’s Choice – movie review

Intense and compelling, The King’s Choice is a historical drama is based around Norway’s entry into World War II.

Inspired by a book of the same name by Alf R. Jacobsen, it concerns three dramatic days in April 1940. The King of Norway is presented with a monstrous ultimatum from Nazi Germany: surrender or die. With German armed forces hunting them, the royal family is forced to flee Oslo. They decide to go their separate ways, not knowing whether they’ll ever see each other again.

While Crown Princess Maertha leaves Norway with the children to seek refuge in Sweden, 68-year-old King Haakon (Jesper Christensen)
 and Crown Prince Olav (Anders Baasmo Christiansen) stay on. After desperately trying to evade the Germans, King Haakon makes his final decision. It’s one that may cost him, his family and many Norwegians their lives.

The official selection from Norway for this year’s Oscars, The King’s Choice received a record-breaking 12 nominations for the Norwegian Academy Awards. They included Best Film and Best Director for Erik Poppe (A Thousand Times Good Night).

While it took me a while to warm to The King’s Choice, the longer it went, the more I got involved. I became invested in the outcome. Clearly a lot of care has gone into making this movie because there’s a great deal of detail in it. The chaos of the time is well captured.

While there are only a handful of combat scenes, one is particularly harrowing, with bullets flying around at close quarters. Much of the imagery is dark, reflecting the gravity of the situation.

The serious, contemplative nature of the king is superbly captured by Jesper Christensen. His character has to take his responsibility mighty seriously – as well he should, given the nature of what he was dealing with. I was also taken by the representation of the German Envoy to Norway (played by Curt Braeuer), who is on a hiding to nowhere.

The King’s Choice reveals the rigours of office at a time of crisis. Rated M, it scores a 7½ out of 10.

Director: Erik Poppe
Cast: Jesper Christensen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Katharina Schüttler
Release Date: 24 August 2017
Rating: M

Alex First

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