The King’s Choice
Jesper Christensen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Karl Markovics
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…absolutely and emphatically not just another movie about World War II.
The year is 1940. Despite its declared neutrality, Norway faces the horrific and very imminent prospect of a German invasion. The royal family has been forced to flee the capital, the government is in disarray, and there are Nazi sympathisers poised to take its place – headed by the odious Vidkun Quisling, whose very surname entered the English language as a synonym for collaborating traitor. The only hope for averting the unthinkable seems to lie in some kind of successful negotiation between King Haakon VII (Jasper Christensen) and the decent but hapless German envoy Curt Brauer (Karl Markovics). The situation is at once very complex and starkly simple, and the tension is palpable…
The first thing you notice about this film is that it literally looks great, thanks mainly to a combination of earthy and rich yet muted colours. But there’s substance aplenty to go with the style, because it’s also both a pitch-perfect human drama and an exciting true story about cataclysmic events. Jasper Christensen’s magnificent performance as King Haakon VII is itself an unlikely but convincing mixture of opposites: he manages to look like a frightened rabbit and yet simultaneously evoke great dignity and strength.
This is absolutely and emphatically not just another movie about World War II. Even the ways that it depicts the psychological horror of war are fresh and inspired: we see misery and fear through the distress of (grand)children and the hapless stunned confusion of young Norwegian soldiers whose heads are too small for their helmets It’s got depth, suspense, excitement and emotional resonance, and the soundtrack music is used to great effect. The whole thing is just superb and you shouldn’t miss it.