A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- In theaters: June 23, 1994
- On DVD or streaming: 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
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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