The second movie that I watched after Handle With Care from the Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival 2017 was The King’s Choice (Kongens Nei).
The King’s Choice chronicles the series of event during the second World War, when Norway was faced with the grim reality of being invaded by the Nazi German. At that time, Norway was still a relatively young country, after the dissolution of the union with Sweden in 1905. The King – Haakon VII (played by Jesper Christensen) – was actually Danish, with the original name of Prince Carl of Denmark. His older brother was King Christian X of Denmark.
The movie shows the dilemma and the deep internal conflict of the king – who wanted to protect the dignity of his young country, and yet also wished to prevent the unnecessary calamity and bloodshed. Whilst perhaps the movie would resonate much deeper with the Norwegians and those closer to the subject matter, for the general audience it provides valuable insights into the Scandinavian culture. The conversations between the King with his Danish accent, with his son – the Crown Prince Olav (Anders Baasmo Christiansen) – who speaks with a Norwegian accent, is a proxy of the changes that were happening in Norway.
The King’s Choice was selected as Norway’s entry to the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards and in so many ways, a biographical war film with a conventional chronological way of telling the story. What makes the movie effective is the way Jesper Christensen shows the inner turmoil that he was facing in having the whole country at his shoulder. Another star in the movie is Karl Markovics who plays the German diplomat, Kurt Bräuer – caught in the middle of the maelstrom of politics, powerful figures, and the ugliness of war.