The King’s Choice (Kongens nei)

kongensrei

* * * * (out of five)

Since you asked, yes, The King’s Choice is kind of a cross between The King’s Speech and Sophie’s Choice. It’s about a largely ceremonial king who must rise to the challenge of guiding his nation, while forced to make a choice imposed on him by Nazis. It’s also an extremely well made and compellingly emotive historical drama, bleeding beautiful craftsmanship from every pore.

The King in question is King Haakon the 7th of Norway, and the choice he must make, over the course of three days in April, 1940, is whether to resist or accept German occupation. It’s a big, difficult decision, the kind that no training in the world prepares you for, because the Nazis were playing by new rules: their own. To resist would almost certainly result in Norwegian casualties; to “bend over” and let the Nazis walk in, as his brother the King of Denmark does hours before, would be a betrayal of, as he sees it, everything he stands for as a sovereign. Tough one.

As a history lesson, the film is exemplary; it certainly plugged gaps in my knowledge not only of Norway’s entry into the war but also many aspects of Scandinavian monarchy. But it’s also a deeply affecting story on a personal level, not only full of suspense and tension but also emotion. If Dunkirk is this year’s Big World War Two film about the planes and the boats, this is the one about the people.