Review / ‘The King’s Choice’ (M) ****

HITLER wanted Norway for its iron ore resources and the strategic bastion it offered against any possible British sea-borne return to Europe.

Norway was a democratic monarchy with a parliamentary government and a small military force. And a monarch who had occupied the throne since 1905. On April 8, 1940, Haakon VII was a 68-year-old grandfather when a German invasion fleet appeared off his country’s coast.

Director Erik Poppe applies deft skills to staging this essentially fact-based film using a screenplay by Harald Rosenløw-Eeg and Jan Trygve Røyneland.

Haakon (Jesper Christensen) and his son Olav (Anders Baasmo Christiansen) faced a tangle of political, constitutional, diplomatic, military and family issues during the early days of the invasion. The Norwegian military had few successes against a far stronger enemy, except on April 9, when Norwegian shore batteries sank the German battle-cruiser “Blucher”.

The man whose name lives in the vocabulary as the epitome of cowardly acquiescence and betrayal to the invaders does not appear but we hear his policy statement in telephone conversations.

“The Times” of London wrote: “To writers, the word quisling is a gift from the gods. If they had been ordered to invent a new word for traitor they could hardly have hit upon a more brilliant combination of letters”.

Vidkun Quisling, the Nazi puppet who served as premier during the whole of the war, faced a firing squad in October, 1945.

Events such as this film displays deserve to be remembered because to forget them is to lose sight of important historical principles. As well, it’s profoundly entertaining and, in its own way, remarkably beautiful.

At Palace Electric

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