Friday, September 30, 2016

Review The Kings Choice(Kongens Nei)

On the 8th of April 1940,  sightings of  war ships close to the Norwegian waters were reported. For some reason the Norwegian armed forces were not put  on alert.

The movie starts with King Haakon VII of Norway at Skaugum, the loving grandfather playing hide and seek with his grand children. King Haakon started life as a Danish  prince. choosen by the norwegians to  become their king in 1805. He arried with his son  Olav. Now 35 years later, he is a widower, feeling his age with a bad back.

As night falls on the 8th, more sightings  happens. The commander at Oscars Borg fortress, Birger Eriksen puts  his men on allert. With out  orders from  above.  He gets reports of german  ships fireing on norwegian ships.  He orders his troops to train  and make  ready.

At the same time, a  german diplomant gets sent to the Norwegian  foregin minister. Germany is only here to protect Norways neutrality from the British.  The cabinet is asked  to sign a  document  that would more or  less  agree to ocupation of Norway by Germany. This poopr diplomat  didn't know  anything about this before this night.  He honestly  wanted Norwegian   neutrality.

At around 4 AM search lights light up a siluet of german  Cruiser heading straight for Oslo.
The commander gives order  to fire, when told he has  no  orders from above   he simply states.
" They have fired on our ships,  they are moving in our waters with no  lanterns, these are enemies, we fire on enmies. They fire of two  28cm costal  guns, Both score a hit. The weapons  on the other side of the  sound fires of everything they got, At the last  moment, Two tropedoes also hit the enemy cruiser. Fires spreads and  sevral  hours later the German Heavy Cruiser Blücher sinks,  With   the loss of up  to 900 sailors and soldiers.
The  28cm  guns going  off

Blücher was at the head of a task  force, tasked with   taking Oslo,  the cabinet and the royal family.

The sinking means, the cabinet,  royal family and gold reserves escape.

We now follow the king for the next few  days, The german dipomat tries  to secure a peaceful solution,  not  easy with warmongering german officiers trying to capture the king.

The movie shows  the king as a very  human character. He misses his  wife, He learns  his brother the king of Denmak has submited  to  the germans.  He is in constant pain from his back. And all  the while he is hounded by the fact he can't do anything to  stop all this from happening.

Even after  the escape, the cabinet still wants to negotiate with the invaders. They hope to get the same "deal" as Denmark. The Crown prins, a man trained in military matters, But not only  trained, he is skilled,  having the respect of  the army  and even foregin leaders.  He want to take an active role, And have been advocating  for making Norway ready  for war for months.
Royal family taking cover under a railway brigde as German warplanes fly over.

His father, has another view of it. He strongly belives in the constituion, He has no  real power. He does not want to meddle with the democraticly elected  goverment. But in the ned,  it comes down to  him.

Besides showing the battle of Drøbak  Sound(a battle that has facinated me since I almost lived at the armed forces   museum, it had a diorama of  this battle. Watched it for hours.  Now I have seen in in a big budget war movie,  And I can die happy.) It also show the battle of Midtskogen,  where about 100 Norwegian  royal  guardsmen and some voulenteers hold of an attack by about 100 Fallsjermjeagers.

Battle of Midtskogen

There  aren't that many norwegian wars movies,  And those we have, have consentrated on the resistance movment, the Heavy water sabotage  ect. This is  the  only one I know of that  shows full scale open  warfare. The Battle for Norway lasted  62  days, Making Norway second only to  Russia  in holding out againt the invading Germans longest.(with  Russia never being conquerd)

The effects are great be they from a  buring Blücher, to Colt machinegun fire. Most impressive is how  they made Oslo ca. 1940. This must have been  done  with heavy use of CGI, As no   way could this have been done by simply closing down some streets and putting some old cars on the road.

Having grown up in Oslo and lived my first 29 years there.(now  at a ripe  old age of 31)  It was wonderful to see my  Oslo  from  the past come  to life.

But what drives the movie is the great acting of Jesper Christensen  as King Haakon VII and Jesper Christensen  as Crown prince Olav.

The king  is shown as loving father and grand father.   And  the Crown prins  as a  enegertic  and profesjonaal man,  yet also  a loving father and son. The both have great respect for each other, Even   tho  they disagree on how to "rule"  The  dynamic of  these too  are really what drives the movie.

Olav ended up as a great peoples king, Many  stories about him exist.
One of my favorites is from the Oil crisis of the late 70s, Driving cars was banned on the weekends. And so show solidariry, instead of taknig his   car(which he could have) He got his skiis. And took the train   into the forest. When asked if he  wasn't afraid to go out with out his body guards, he simply replied  "I have 4 million body guards"

So it was great seeing this man  potrayed in the big screen.
King and Crown  prince running as bombers and fighters attack.

I'm embarrased by not knowing sevral  things   that happend those 3 days in April. I  didn't know just how damn  close the  cabinet  came to accepting the  german proposition. I didn't know the  King met in private with this german dipomat.  I didn't know just how close the king and crown  prince came  to be killed in those early days.

I think its great to have  a movie that shows and honours not only the king, but the norwegians that fought those 62 days in 1940. These men and  women  have in many ways been forgotton, Instead  concentrating on  hour resistance heroes.   This is a movie that needed to be made, and  I'm very glad it was.

I recomend everyone  to  see this movie, It's not a your typical WW2  movie(it got princes and princesses)  It's a vital part of modern Norwegian histroy, that has not been told in this way before.


Donald Wolff said...

Sir, it has not been forgotten -

Gunfreak said...

Thanks for the link to Skirmish campaing, I didn't know about that one.

I do know about the gorgon Norwegians, I hope they make Norwegians in winter cammo and a Colt Machinegun with crew, then I can make a Midtskogen Diorama.

David Cooke said...

Well I want to see this movie now.
Will check to see if is available in my region.