Movie Review: The Polar Bear King

February 12, 2013

This past movie night found us watching The Polar Bear King, a Norwegian film from 1991 and based on a folktale  (the Norse title is Kvitebjørn Kong Valemon). In it, a prince from the land of Summer gets turned into a polar bear by an evil witch. He has to find someone willing to love him in order to break the curse. Fairly early in the movie, he does, so saying that isn’t spoiling anything!

There are echoes of many stories in this one–Beauty and the Beast, Orpheus and Eurydice–I can’t remember them all right now, but I remember drawing lots of connections while we were watching–guess I should have taken notes! But the thing my daughter liked best about the film was that the girl was the hero. She gets out there, gets dirty, and uses her brain and her brawn to save the day. It may be named after the prince, but it is truly about the princess from the land of Winter. She sees beneath the bear to find the man, which isn’t unusual, but her heroics don’t end there. I don’t want to give away anything, but I will say that being turned into a bear isn’t the only problem the prince has to deal with, and if not for the princess–and other women in his life–he would be very much up the creek!

The princess is not without flaws, and some of the problems she needs to fix are of her own making, but that makes her human and real. Yes, there are some cheesy scenes and the effects aren’t spectacular–but they also aren’t bad for a 20-year-old film. According to Amazon, the movie is dubbed, but Norwegian must be really close to English because the dubbing was flawless. I even found myself wondering why the actors were speaking English.

This is a great movie for girls, for boys, for everyone!

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Kim Harrison

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