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Film / The King's Choice

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The King's Choice is a 2016 film from Norway directed by Erik Poppe.

It recounts three tumultuous days in the history of Norway, April 8-11, 1940. King Haakon VII is unpleasantly surprised on April 8 to be told by his son, Crown Prince Olav, that the Germans are invading, based on reports of Nazi ships heading their way. On April 9 all doubt is removed as German troops begin landing in the country, while a German cruiser is sunk in Drobak Sound. The king and his family, which includes Olav, Olav's wife, and Olav's children, make a hurried departure north to stay ahead of the Nazis.

Meanwhile, the German envoy in Oslo, Curt Bräuer, is frantic. Bräuer, a career diplomat rather than a hardened Nazi, is desperate to avoid bloodshed. Bräuer hopes that Haakon VII will follow the example of his brother, King Christian X of Denmark, who capitulated within a couple of hours after the German entry into the country on April 9. However, his own country's brutishness makes Bräuer's job more difficult. A German bombing raid on Haakon VII's train makes him less willing to co-operate. Adolf Hitler's insistence that Haakon appoint Vidkun Quisling, a traitor and Nazi stooge, to the post of prime minister, also makes Haakon reluctant. But Haakon's ministers are willing to talk turkey with the Germans in order to avoid bloodshed, leaving the king with a difficult choice.


For a much more lighthearted take on these same events, see the animated short film My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts.


  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Bräuer is lighting up a cigarette with a shaking hand as he meets the German army officer in charge of Wehrmacht operations on the ground, who is making Bräuer's job more difficult by aggressively attacking the Norwegians.
  • Distant Finale: Ends five years after the main story, with Haakon greeting his grandson Harald in London, right before they are to go home to Norway.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: A 2 1/2 minute tracking shot follows Bräuer from his private office, to the bullpen, to the foyer of the embassy, and out into the street. The camera is following Bräuer as he frantically strives to get the German army to halt so that Bräuer can negotiate with King Haakon VII.
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  • Extremely Short Timespan: April 8-11, 1940.
  • The Ghost: Vidkun Quisling, who was such a contemptible traitor that he became a trope namer. Quisling and his Norwegian Nazis claim political power on April 9 but hardly anyone supports them. Haakon VII recoils at turning the country over to a Nazi stooge that the people don't support. Bräuer is also worried, because he knows that Quisling has virtually no support in Norway and Hitler's insistence on Quisling will make it much harder to get the Norwegians to surrender.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The 28cm MRK L/35 naval guns used by Norwegian defenders to sink the Blucher were purchased from Germany in 1893. Still proving very effective even after almost 50 years.
  • Jitter Cam: Seen on a couple of occasions, like when Norwegian soldiers hurriedly take up positions along an important roadblock on the road north, hoping to delay the Germans long enough to allow Haakon VII to escape.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: An entire scene has the men of Oscarsborg Fortress loading up their guns before the Germans arrive. It pays off, as artillery fire from Oscarsborg sinks German heavy cruiser Blucher, delaying the Nazi invasion.
  • Match Cut: From Bräuer walking away from his unsuccessful negotiations with King Haakon VII, to Haakon walking into a meeting with his government where he tells them German terms are unacceptable.
  • Retraux: The opening sequence covering Haakon's arrival in Norway in 1905 to become king (he was actually from Denmark but was invited to be King of Norway when Norway gained independence) is shot to mimic an early silent film.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: A point of dramatic tension. Haakon VII, as a constitutional monarch, actually is not supposed to do anything. But the rapidly unfolding events have him making big decisions regarding surrender or war, especially when Adolf Hitler orders Bräuer to negotiate only with Haakon VII rather than the prime minister or his cabinet.
  • The Voice: Bräuer takes a tense call from Nazi Foreign Minister Ribbentrop (who by the way was executed at Nuremberg in 1946). The call gets a lot more tense when Adolf Hitler himself gets on the line, much to Bräuer's shock.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: All the principals. Seeberg, the fresh-faced boy grieviously injured fighting the Germans at a roadblock, survived the war and was still alive when this movie was released in Norway. Curt Bräuer left government service and served on the Eastern Front as an ordinary soldier, spending nine years in Soviet prison camps before finally being sent home and surviving until 1969.
  • Wilhelm Scream: Heard from the German soldier that takes a bullet in the chest from Seeberg. Unfortunately for Seeberg that comes a moment after the German throws a grenade, which lands at Seeberg's feet and grievously injures him.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Bräuer hauls off and slaps his wife hard after she punctures his attitude of diplomatic superiority and calls him a soldier of Hitler.

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