In 1905 Prince Carl of Denmark offered the throne in Norway, a largely ceremonial position. But all that changes in April of 1940 when the German war machine arrives.
Norway has always prided itself on being a sovereign nation and has usually stayed away from skirmishes, electing to follow Switzerland in that regard.
However, when the British and French Navy lay mines in the waters surrounding Norway to prevent the German’s from using that water to continue their push, the Germans see this as their chance to take Norway surreptitiously.
They advance into Norway on the premise of protecting their sovereignty from the British pigs. The government is completely unprepared for the onslaught that begins and, despite the best efforts of the German attaché Curt Brauer, Karl Markovics (The Devil’s Mistress, Influence) to bring a peaceful takeover the country, the Fuhrer is providing different instructions to the army leaders.
The government is at a loss as the German’s advance and take city after city with relative ease. The government is so unprepared that the prime minister tenders his resignation, along with the entire cabinet.
Despite the King being an old man now and has his young son Olav, Anders Baasmo Christiansen (Kon-Tiki, Welcome To Norway), snapping at his heels and pushing his father into intervening on the politics of the time, he doesn’t accept their resignation, telling them that this is the time when the country needs its elected leaders.
Next the Germans announce they have taken the country and have installed their own leaders. But Brauer believes it would be best to get the government to agree to the takeover officially. He’s told to forget the government and get the King’s approval.
The King however, has different feelings about the matter and refuses to sign over his country to the German invasion, despite his brother, the King of Denmark, having done so a short while before.
The King’s Choice is an enlightening film about a period of history I was not familiar with. It was unprecedented at the time, and still remains so to this day, that a King would have a say on Norwegian politics in the way King Haakon VII did then.
The film is slow, coming in at over 2 hours, which could be forgiven when you consider the period of time and what was occurring.
However, the director, Erik Poppe (Troubled Water, Hawaii, Oslo), segments the movie with date and time stamps which, you sense, are meant to bring tension but in fact serve to break the film up too much. It can, at times, feel like you’re playing a video game that only has cut scenes and no actual game play.
Camera choice ranges from; steady cam to handheld ‘run and gun’ feel and sometimes first-person point of view, adding to the game feel, particularly as director adds blood splatter to the lenses and we lay on our side, gasping for breath.
It’s a real shame the movie is broken up in this way as it feels unnecessary to completely stop what we’re doing to see a black screen with a timestamp and location. Why this couldn’t have just been added to the screen I don’t know.
It detracts from what is a superb performance from Jesper Christensen (Spectre, Quantum Of Solace) as the King. He’s in constant pain due to his bad back which adds to the pain and worry he’s feeling as his country suffers.
Christensen, looking remarkably like the actual king, makes us feel the pain and worry, it’s etched all over his face. This changes in an instant when he’s playing with the children of the Princess and he’s so happy, but you can see him thinking of their future.
We get to see a couple of skirmishes between armies and Poppe handles things well when it happens. But the breaking up of the film with the time stamps and the myriad of camera choices can leave you a little flustered that he hasn’t just let a great story, and great performances, take centre stage.
Extras include: The premiere – which is just shy of a minute and brought to you by some chocolate (??). Effects breakdown – which is again just a minute and the trailer, which is two minutes.