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.