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Erik Poppe The King's Choice

Erik Poppe The King's Choice

Cast: Jesper Christensen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Karl Markovics
Director: Erik Poppe
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Rated: M
Running Time: 130 minutes

Synopsis: Based on extraordinary true events, Erik Poppe's new film is an absorbing story of mortality and honour set during a pivotal moment in World War II, when an unprepared Norway was invaded by German forces and their monarch presented with a terrible ultimatum.

The King's Choice
Release Date: August 24th, 2017


About The Production

Directors Note By Erik Poppe

History has always been a huge part of my life. Books, articles, research and films have always enthralled me. Our immediate history, from the industrialization of Norway in the middle of the 1850s, until the oil finds in the North Sea in the 1970s, is filled with victories and defeats. With discoveries and losses, with life and death. The coming into being of a young nation, and its journey from dire poverty to enormous wealth is fascinating to follow.

The Most Thrilling Story

The war in Norway is probably the part of this history that has received the most attention, so what more is there to tell about this period? Perhaps the most fascinating part of this story is that it is historically documented in a compelling and moving way. A story that reaches an audience with a combination of strong and moving drama, and leaves a feeling of having gained new knowledge and wisdom, is a story that captivates and excites.

So, is there anything left to say about the war? Yes, of course there is more to tell, more to understand, and more to learn and be entertained by. The most central part of the war has not yet been told, neither on TV nor film. The dramatic and thrilling story of those who were the primary target for the attack, those who were pressured, and whom the Nazis finally attempted to murder - the King, his family and the Government.

Character Driven

This is a character-driven drama where all the main characters develop as they accumulate knowledge and bitter experiences. Experiences that will define them for the rest of their lives.

The King's Choice is the story of King Haakon, and of the attack on Norway. But it's also a story about a father and his son, Haakon and Olav. First and foremost, we follow Haakon, up close and personal. It is his subjective experience we will depict, and it is his psyche that colours the film's tone and energy. As a counterweight to King Haakon's purely subjective story, the film also tells the story of the German liaison Curt Braeuer. This will be recounted in depth, but not subjectively, like Haakon's.

When we experience the Government, Vice President Hambro, Prime Minister Nygaardsvold or Foreign Minister Koht , the narrative point of view is always either Haakon's or Braeuer's. Surrounding this central drama, we also experience the story of the ineffectual Prime Minister who desperately wants to leave his position and his responsibility, as well as the story of the tug of war between Braeuer who hopes for a resolution by negotiating with the King, and the German military leader, Pohlman, who is intent only on following the order from Berlin - kill the King and his family.

An Emotional Thriller

The film is up close and personal, with many thriller elements. As a contrast and a dynamic to the thriller, we will show in some scenes the great events of April 1940. Surrounded by war and death, and seeing life in that scale makes even a King or a Government feel small.

There are some stories that we have chosen to intertwine, and which will complement our main story, and further help us to understand the event, and the gravity of this drama, the fact that war is death and danger. It is the story of the ship 'Bluecher" in the Oslo fjord, which was sunk early in the morning of April 9th, and it is the story of the rising intensity and anguish of the battle at Midtskogen, which also depicts the seriousness of this war. Both battles have a decisive impact on the King's life.

Modernise Biographical Fiction

To be able to make The King's Choice is a dream come true. It is a period drama and a portrait of a central, but also mythical moment in our common history. In The King's Choice, we want to captivate the audience and to enlarge the scope of what a biographical fiction film can be. I look forward to this task with a certain reverence, but with great eagerness and enthusiasm.

Producers Note By Finn Gjerdrum

A review of Alf R. Jacobsen's book caught my attention in the spring of 2011. The review painted a picture of King Haakon the 7th, who in tears told the Government that he had rejected the German messenger's offer to make Norway a protectorate under the Third Reich, and that he would be held responsible for the deaths of several thousands of Norwegian men and women.

I immediately thought, we have a film here: The dramatic aspect of the story, people with enormous dilemmas. It's about the Royal family, and takes place during the Second World War. All good ingredients to stir up a good film for a huge audience. This is a kind of film which will fit perfectly in our new lineup, which consists of making good quality mainstream films with a twist, to reach a larger audience, both national and international. The background for starting this line-up, lies in the question: Why should talented director's with a clear voice settle with making films with limited commercial potential, for a small audience?

When the rights was secured, it was down to establishing a strong creative team to manage the project. I wanted a screenwriter who could work independently both regarding the publisher and the director. We chose Jan Trygve Røynela to develop the first draft. As the project developed and our intended director for The King's Choice was Erik Poppe, Harald Rosenløw Eeg was teamed up with Jan Trygve and together they made up a strong writing team. With their previous successful collaboration on several projects, they complement each other in the writing process, and know Erik Poppe very well as a director.

With the team in place, the next natural step was to attract actors who can perform, and do justice to these characters. Jesper Christensen stood out at an early stage, for the main role. The Norwegian King Haakon the 7th, was of Danish origin, so having a Dane playing this part is only natural. Jesper Christensen has also had several international roles. Our own Anders Baasmo Christiansen has both been the Shooting Star in Berlin, and also shown that he can carry great roles in Norwegian films. He has a natural resemblance to Crown Prince Olav, and ended up being our first choice to play the part.

With the experience from our previous films, I feel that this project has great opportunities to reach an international audience. As previously mentioned, it contains all the ingredients which makes it easy to both pitch and visualise. And it will be made with an artistic touch which will enhance it from the broad epic story, so it will end up as a personal adaptation of something great and human. Thus creating the cinematic experience which people are requesting internationally and nationally.

Character Descriptions

King Haakon Vii (68)
Haakon is the first king of Norway since the 12th century. In the time leading up to the German invasion of Norway, Haakon finds himself and the Monarchy under threat from the Socialist government.

Haakon's place is not at all safe, and he is forced to act according to the wishes of the elected government. This is a major challenge to Haakon, as he fights for his beliefs while faced with the passive stance of a pacifist government. With the death of his beloved wife Maud just a few years earlier, Haakon feels alone at both the palace and in the dark days to come.

Crown Prince Olav (35)
Olav becomes Crown prince and heir apparent to the throne of Norway when his father is elected King in 1095. In preparations for his royal duties , he attend both civilian and military schools. In 1929 he marries his cousin Princess Maertha of Sweden. During World war II his leadership is much valued and he is appointed Norwegian Chief of Defense in 1944. He however always wishes he could do more during the invasion and war. Olav is a military man, and wielding executive power while on the run from the Germans, is not something he relishes. He has to figure out where his place is – on the battlefield or at his fathers side.

Curt Braeuer (50)
BrAEuer is a German career diplomat and the German Envoy to Norway at the time of the invasion. After losing his first wife in 1920, he travels the world as a diplomat. But love strikes again when he meets a new woman, Anneliese. They marry in the late 20s, and move to Norway in 1939 to get away from a Europe beset by the threat of war. Just after their arrival, Anneliese gives birth to a beautiful daughter and their lives seem almost perfect.

However, on the evening of April 8, 1940, he receives orders from Berlin " he is to be Hitler's representative and deliver a German ultimatum for the occupation of Norway to the Norwegian government the next morning. The war has caught up with them. Braeuer is now back in the midst of war. Will he be able to broker peace, and keep his family by his side.


The King's Choice
Release Date: August 24th, 2017


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