DVD Movie Review: The King's Choice

By Thom Compton 15.04.2018

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The King's Choice (UK Rating: 12)

It's hard to imagine there's much left to tell about World War II. Fiction and non-fiction alike have tackled everything from the death camps to the atrocities committed by both the Allies and the Axis. It's all harrowing, but when you find out a new story is there, to be ingested and mulled over, it can be pretty exciting. Fortunately, for The King's Choice (out now on DVD via Thunderbird Releasing), it manages to be a gripping tale, that only occasionally makes you wonder why any of it bothers.

The King's Choice tells the story of former Norwegian king, King Haakon VII, and the difficult decision he must make. Should Norway stand strong and continue to repel Hitler's army, or should they receive peace in exchange for letting the Nazis into Norway. Surrender and save lives, or fight and lose countless innocent. While it doesn't carry the weight of, say, Sophie's Choice, it is a rather interesting dilemma to watch the king grapple with.

The king is a largely loving man who adores his grandchildren and his son alike, although he's a bit blunter when it comes to his son. Okay, quite a bit blunter. Their relationship is explored in a very real evolution, resulting in a believable father-son dynamic that is enjoyable to watch unfold on film. Meanwhile, the diplomat for Germany, one Curt Brauer, is attempting to keep the escalating relationship from turning into all out war between the two nations. Meanwhile, he is trying to maintain his family life, struggling desperately to balance the two and not only save Norway, but his wife and child.

The film is expertly shot and the script is brilliant, leaving the only issue being one little hang up. Norway's king didn't have final say in these matters. The country had a Prime Minister and a cabinet who made the final decision, so the film focusing around the king and his decision is, at times, weird. Still, the cabinet takes his opinion on the matter very seriously, and Hitler himself demands that Brauer speak to the King, not the cabinet, so it does give a good amount of weight to his decision.

Beyond this, a lot of The King's Choice is about the people of Norway defending their home, and it does add credence to the King's decision, even if he isn't aware of everything that happens. Viewers are allowed to explore and consume the country during the 72 hours between the beginning of the invasion, and the king's choice, and as the film counts through the hours leading up to the 72-hour mark, it feels like these little diversions are not only welcome, but necessary in making the audience feel more connected to what's going on.

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10
Most complaints that could be levelled at The King's Choice are that the film probably would have worked better if it had been about one member of Parliament, and sure, for entertainment's sake that may have helped, but by framing it around the king, the diplomat, and the people defending their country, the film manages to feel far more than epic than it would have otherwise. The King's Choice is a sublime film, and a story everyone should try to experience at least once.

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