A grip­ping look at Nor­way’s WWII con­flict

Film ex­am­ines gov­ern­ment’s role in war, and con­se­quences

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - Showtime - Palm Beach - - MOVIES - By Ken­neth Tu­ran

It’s de­bat­able whether his­tory is writ­ten by the vic­tors, but it’s cer­tainly re­mem­bered from the point of view of those most af­fected. So though Nor­we­gians likely know all about the events de­picted in the grip­ping, finely made “The King’s Choice,” it will be news to ev­ery­one else, and that’s a good thing.

Strongly per­formed by un­fa­mil­iar ac­tors and crisply di­rected by Nor­way’s Erik Poppe, “The King’s Choice” is a dra­matic tale about a piv­otal World War II moment, a story in­fused with ten­sion and psy­cho­log­i­cal con­flict that’s all the more en­gross­ing for be­ing fresh to us.

The king in ques­tion is Nor­way’s Haakon VII, and the choice he came to dur­ing three hec­tic days in April of 1940 not only de­ter­mined his coun­try’s spe­cific fate dur­ing the war, it speaks to broader ques­tions about the moral role of lead­ers, whether they be con­sti­tu­tional monar­chs.

As writ­ten by Jan Trygve Royneland and Har­ald Rosen­lowEeg, “The King’s Choice” gives short shrift to hind­sight. Its in­tent is to show us how dif­fi­cult it is to see clearly dur­ing times of cri­sis, how what seems as sim­ple as black and white to­day was the source of un­cer­tainty and soulsearch­ing when it hap­pened.

For the con­flicts in this film go be­yond the ob­vi­ous one between in­vad­ing Ger­mans and in­vaded Nor­we­gians. A sig­nif­i­cant part of “The King’s Choice” deals with se­ri­ous in­ter­nal dis­agree­ments on both sides of the bat­tle line, and a key Ger­man of­fi­cial, far from be­ing vil­i­fied, is shown to be hos­tile to in­va­sion and a pas­sion­ate be­liever in ne­go­ti­a­tion over mil­i­tary might.

Be­fore the film prop­erly be­gins, Rat­ing: No rat­ing Run­ning time: 2:13 Opens: To­day type on screen fills in non-Nor­we­gians on es­sen­tial back­story. Nor­way broke away from Swe­den in 1905 to be­come its own coun­try and chose a Dan­ish royal, who took the name Haakon VII, to be its new king, with his in­fant son be­com­ing the newly minted Crown Prince Olav.

“The King’s Choice” be­gins on April 8, 1940, with the now el­derly King Haakon (vet­eran Dan­ish ac­tor Jes­per Chris­tensen) glee­fully play­ing hide and seek with his lively grand­chil­dren in the snowy court­yard of Crown Prince Olav’s es­tate.

Olav (An­ders Baasmo Chris­tiansen) is in a less cheer­ful mood. Though Nor­way in­sists that it is neu­tral in the war, Ger­man war­ships are on the way, al­legedly to help the coun­try against a pu­ta­tive Bri­tish in­va­sion.

More im­pul­sive and quicker to anger than his fa­ther, Olav is de­ter­mined to do some­thing, any­thing, as fast as pos­si­ble. But Haakon, look­ing like the weight of the world is on him (as it surely is) and keenly aware of the con­sti­tu­tional na­ture of the monar­chy, wants to make sure that the gov­ern­ment has its say and that ne­go­ti­a­tions that might save lives are al­ways pur­sued.

“The King’s Choice” in­ter­cuts this lo­ca­tion with sev­eral oth­ers, in­clud­ing the tense sit­u­a­tion at Os­cars­borg Fortress as the Nor­we­gian mil­i­tary has to de­ter­mine whether to fire on the Ger­mans, and the Ger­man lega­tion, where that coun­try’s en­voy, Curt Brauer (Karl Markovics), is in­tent on do­ing what­ever he can to keep his wife, Crown Princess Martha own coun­try’s mil­i­tary at bay. (Tuva Novotny) about what his

The film’s nar­ra­tive ex­tends per­sonal course of ac­tion should overbe.justtwom­ore­days,but­they are packed with in­ci­dent and Mean­while, the king and his son con­flict. April 9 be­gins with are mov­ing ever fur­ther north, Haakon and Olav and their fam­ily try­ing to stay one step ahead of the need­ing to flee from the in­vaders, Ger­mans. De­fend­ing them are a and the scene of the chaos that small group of Nor­we­gian sol­re­sults when Ger­man planes diers, in­clud­ing a very young strafe their train is vivid and Fredrik See­berg ( Arthur in­volv­ing. Hakalahti), who im­pul­sively

Brauer, for his part, is try­ing to prom­ises to give his all for the per­suade the Nor­we­gian gov­ern­monarch. ment to call the un­fold­ing in­vaThough touched by the boy’s sion “vol­un­tary co­op­er­a­tion,” naive earnest­ness, Haakon gently while si­mul­ta­ne­ously bat­tling his cor­rects him. “We give our all for own coun­try’s as­cen­dant mil­i­tary, Nor­way, not the king,” he says. in­tent on shoot­ing ev­ery­thing in And it is his un­bend­ing de­ter­misight, and his own young wife, nation to do what he thinks is best who has po­lit­i­cal ideas of her own. for the coun­try that be­comes the

On the Nor­we­gian side, not only cen­tral drama of this very satisdo Haakon and Olav have se­ri­ous fy­ing film. pol­icy dis­putes, but the crown prince is also in con­flict with his

SA­MUEL GOLDWYN FILMS/COUR­TESY

An­ders Baasmo Chris­tiansen and Jes­per Chris­tensen in “The King’s Choice.”

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