The Polar Bear King

  • Review Date: January 10, 2011
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1994

Common Sense Media says

Norwegian fairy tale is confusing, long, and a bit scary.
  • Review Date: January 10, 2011
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1994

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Good triumphs over evil. Even after mistakes are made, acknowledging those mistakes and making amends can lead to positive results.

Positive role models

The old king is good and has the best interests of his people at heart, even though he's slow to accept the unusual. The young king is an exemplary hero. The princess is courageous, tries hard to fulfill her tasks, and, even though she makes a major mistake, doesn't give up. The evil witch is wicked and pays for her behavior.

Violence & scariness

Though the audience understands that the polar bear is good and harmless, the huge animal (played by a man in a bear suit) roars, stands poised to attack, and thunders over the land. There are several scenes in which wolves howl and race across the landscape, seeming to chase innocents. The evil witch is classically scary -- arching eyebrows, cackling voice, dark, bubbling laboratory equipment. The witch's boss -- a devilish, shrieking character -- appears and disappears in clouds of smoke.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that some scary animal images, along with the purposefully frightening wicked enchantress and her followers and the "semi-disappearance" of three young children, make this an iffy choice for very young or sensitive viewers. Snarling wolves with teeth bared and fiery speed threaten and chase the human characters on more than one occasion. A polar bear (who is easily recognized as a man in a bear suit) often rears up and roars but is never really dangerous. There are no attacks or injuries, and the soldiers sent to do battle turn and run rather than engage the beasts. The enchantress works in a lab bubbling with steam and poisons. She works her magic with blasts of smoke and flashes of lightning, conjuring up truly bizarre, devil-like beings.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

In a land of sunshine and flowers, a wicked enchantress, hoping to rule the world, places a curse on a handsome young king when he refuses to join her evil campaign. As punishment, she turns him into a polar bear. The curse will last for seven years, during which time he will revert to human form every night at midnight. He must never allow anyone to see his face, or he will be forced to marry the enchantress and be cursed forever. Journeying to the icy north where he will more easily adapt to the environment, THE POLAR BEAR KING meets the princess of his dreams. He tells her his story and gains her love and trust. Against the wishes of her caring father, the princess goes with him to his kingdom, where she becomes his wife and bears his children. But the king's future is endangered anew when, just before the curse is to end, the princess disobeys him and sneaks a look at his face while he's asleep. Her mistake sets the enchantress in motion once again.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

It's hard to determine whether it's the story, with its myriad confusing rules that define the "legend," or the production itself that makes this film so unenjoyable. With uniformly terrible acting, laughable attempts at "special" effects (the man in the polar bear suit and his ridiculous vocalizations are almost indescribable), and an assortment of grotesque characters (i.e., a banquet scene with bastions of ugly and bizarre guests slobbering over great plates of disgusting food), only the most undiscerning viewer will find anything to like in this clumsy attempt to bring a Norwegian folk tale to life.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about bringing folk tales to the screen. Why is it important to keep the story simple and make the characters' behavior believable? Does this film do that?

  • Why do you think the princess disobeyed her husband's important request and accepted the gift from her sisters? How did the princess make up for her terrible mistake?

  • Look up the term "folk tale." What stories have you read or movies have you seen that are memorable folk tales?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 23, 1994
DVD release date:March 23, 2000
Cast:Jack Fjeldstad, Maria Bonnevie, Tobias Hoesl
Director:Ola Solum
Studio:Film Teknikk Norge
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Wild animals
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some scary scenes

This review of The Polar Bear King was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byRaithlyn February 21, 2011
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

A movie for mature, culturally interested children.

This is a fanciful adaptation of Norwegian folk legends. While certainly not a blockbuster or a roaringly entertaining flick, it still provides a beautifully told story that is commonly seen in watered-down, very PC versions. While sensitive children might not benefit (as there are scenes of wild animals and the subject of overt evil) a mature child, older child, or someone interested in world cultures would be able to handle this just fine as well as learning about different kinds of oral traditions.

The cinematography is beautifully done, especially for a low-budget and older film, and great attention is paid to props and costumes in making this feel more like a filmed play. The story is timeless: faithfulness, keeping your promises, and having the courage to face your own mistakes and your fears. In the end, as with all truly fantastic movies, Good triumphs over Evil.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Parent of a 6 year old Written bymadsmooney1214 November 3, 2012
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

polar bear king

Families can talk about bringing folk tales to the screen. Why is it important to keep the story simple and make the characters' behavior believable? Does this film do that?

Why do you think the princess disobeyed her husband's important request and accepted the gift from her sisters? How did the princess make up for her terrible mistake?

Look up the term "folk tale." What stories have you read or movies have you seen that are memorable folk tales?

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence

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