Panda Storm Pictures / Amazon Prime Video
+++ Opinion +++
There is a whole range of spectacular cinema productions that ruthlessly capture the horrors of World War II — among the most famous, harrowing and best of the recent past are Steven Spielberg’s cruel frontline carnage «Saving Private Ryan» , Roman Polanski’s moving ghetto drama «The Pianist» or Christopher Nolan’s visually stunning spectacle «Dunkirk» , which shook cinemas all over the world in 2017.
“The King’s Choice – Attack on Norway” is two sizes smaller than the films mentioned – and is still definitely worth seeing. The Norwegian filmmaker Erik Poppe ( «Utoya 22nd July» ) has picked out a little-known but incredibly gripping story of his homeland, which actually wanted to remain neutral during the Second World War, but because of its strategically favorable location and plentiful mineral resources it differed from the German one Wehrmacht was attacked.
And it is precisely with this attack that the film begins: after explanatory text overlays that locate the story in 1940 and historical black and white footage of the king’s arrival in Norway, we meet the main character directly in person: Haakon VII, who was elected to office in 1905 .( Jesper Christensen ) is marked by life and severe back pain — which does not prevent the almost 70-year-old head of state from playing in the snow with his three grandchildren. Even at this early point in the film, we take Haakon to our hearts — but that doesn’t mean that the filmmakers would artificially stylize him as an all-time sovereign and impeccable role model.
SO ELECTRIFYING «THE KING’S CHOICE» STARTS
However, the cozy family life and the carefree life at court are quickly over: Haakon receives the alarming report that German warships are heading for Norway and that the country is being attacked. Everything changes within minutes. We’ll be there live when the scene changes, the local defenders take up position on the Oslofjord shoreline and their searchlights grope across the water in the pitch-black night. When the cone of light captures the dark silhouettes of the German destroyers for the first time after torturous minutes of uncertainty and the dark, booming score typical of the film begins, that is the first really big moment of goosebumps.
Panda Storm Pictures On the run from the German Wehrmacht: The Norwegian King Haakon VII (Jesper Christensen) and his companions.
From now on, the events in “The King’s Choice”, which Amazon Prime Video customers can stream at no additional cost, will be happening. After being hit badly, a German ship bursts into flames and sinks under the waves, while Haakon wants to take the train to safety with his son, Crown Prince Olav ( Anders Baasmo Christiansen ), his daughter-in-law and their three children. But the royal family didn’t get very far: the German air force was already flying over Norway and targeting the desperate fugitives directly. The occupiers know no mercy.
›› «The King’s Choice» on Amazon Prime Video *
Meanwhile, the German envoy Curt Bräuer ( Karl Markovics ), who was drawn in a pleasantly differentiated way by the screenwriters Jan Trygve Røyneland and Harald Rosenløw Eeg , and who by no means approves of the Nazi attack, is doing his best to find a diplomatic solution — but is suddenly overtaken by the reality of the war of aggression . He also has to deal with the stubborn Lieutenant Colonel Hartwig Pohlman ( Andreas Lust ), who, as a misanthropic model Nazi, doesn’t give a damn about the threat of bloodshed in Scandinavia, as long as the armaments industry secures its supply of iron ore by exploiting the country.
Panda Storm Pictures Rarely agree: Lieutenant Colonel Hartwig Pohlman (Andreas Lust) and the German envoy Curt Bräuer (Karl Markovics).
DESPERATE DIPLOMACY INSTEAD OF BLOODY CARNAGE
«The King’s Choice», which celebrated its German premiere at the Berlinale 2017 in the «Panorama Special» section, scores less with complex material battles or spectacular firefights than with a strong screenplay and a story in the style of «The Darkest Hour» that Spotlight on a highly exciting chapter in Norwegian politics.
The actual events of the war, in which the hopelessly outnumbered defenders desperately defend themselves against the German superiority, make up only a few minutes in the film. Instead, the driving force behind the events, which are based on real history, is the question of whether King Haakon actually manages to escape from the Nazis — and how the tireless Curt Bräuer wants to convince the Norwegian government to agree to his demands for a ceasefire.
Nevertheless, the war drama by filmmaker Erik Poppe is always grippingly arranged, which is not least due to the first-class cast. In addition to «James Bond 007 — Casino Royale» actor Jesper Christensen, who delivers a strong performance in his leading role as a Scandinavian national hero, his Austrian colleague Karl Markovics also shines as a brave diplomat, who stands to attention in shock when «the leader» is suddenly on the phone is. With Juliane Köhler (who ironically played Adolf Hitler’s wife Eva Braun in the bunker drama «Der Untergang» ) and Katharina Schüttler, who plays Bräuer’s wife Anneliese here, also includes two renowned German actresses in the cast — but they don’t get nearly as much room to develop.
That’s a pity, but it doesn’t change the positive overall impression: «The King’s Choice» is one of the better war films that you can currently see on Amazon Prime Video at no additional cost.
The King’s Choice — Attack on Norway Trailer DF