“The King’s Choice”: More engaging than thrilling


Two of the most jam-packed days in Norwegian history

War movies. I am reasonably sure we can agree that films centering around the topic of war are rarely cheerful. They might have moments of comedic relief or a heartwarming or uplifting ending, but on the whole, an average war film will at least leave watchers with a single tear threatening to fall. With this in mind, I have not gone to see that many war movies over the years.

When I sit in a seat, potentially with some popcorn or candy, I want to laugh and be merry, not weeping openly over men and women who died because someone somewhere got on their high horse and tried to take over the world. However, if I had to watch a war movie for say, I do not know, a film review for “The Ranger News”, I would not run away screaming.

Maybe it is not so bad

As it happens, “The King’s Choice” was easier to get through than I had hoped. Set in 1940s Norway, the film takes place over the course of roughly three days, and focuses on the decision of King Haakon VII, during that time. At that point in the war, Norway was determined to remain neutral, but Germany was equally determined to overrun and occupy the country.

King Haakon and the rest of the royal family flee to a safe farm in the countryside, and thus begins the game of cat and mouse between the Norwegian government and the Germans.

No bark, massive bite

With a cast of sympathetic and engaging characters, “The King’s Choice” does a good job of capturing the attention of its audience and making them invest in the final outcome. Haakon himself is a tall, weary-looking sixty-eight-year-old who looks as though a strong wind could carry him away.

The gentle nature with which he speaks to his grandchildren and the young soldiers he comes across throughout the film is refreshing and more human than monarchs are normally portrayed as. This made it a genuine surprise when Haakon’s backbone shone through as he defended his country and all the people within it that depended on him.

The King’s Choice Awards

“The King’s Choice” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, but the only awards it formally won were from the Norwegian International Film Festival. The film was awarded with best Norwegian film, best music and sound design, best screenplay, visual effects, editing and best supporting actor.

If you missed UW Parkside’s run of “The King’s Choice,” the film is available for rent or purchase on YouTube and Amazon.

Foreign Film: Of Gods and Men

Of Gods and Men is a French film loosely based on true events of the life of the Cistercian Monks of Tibhirine, Algeria, spanning from 1993 until their kidnapping later that same year. Although the film did have some great shots of scenery, and the music and religious chanting the monks did while they prayed was enchanting, it was not enough to save this film from what it was, a dull, slow paced film that barely kept my attention.

The critics consensus on the website Rotten Tomatoes (rottentomatoes.com) states that the film is “patient and restrained” and that “Of Gods and Men asks deep, profound questions that will linger in the audience’s mind long after the movie.”

Continue reading Foreign Film: Of Gods and Men