The Polar Bear King
"The Polar Bear King" released 1991, based on the Norwegian folk tale titled King Valemon, The White Bear, had excellent puppet effects from the Jim Henson Creature Shop, especially those that created the polar bear. This film had an expert cast, crew and director. The script stayed true to the folk tale King Valemon, The White Bear. There was some artistic license taken by the script writer Erik Borge, but all in all the story remained in tact, less altered than the famous Germanic folk tale Cinderella that is changed by each movie rendition, not truly adhering to the Grimm Brother's compiled version in the book Grimm's Fairy Tales. I found this to be a delightful surprise.
"The Polar Bear King" is about a beautiful princess (Maria Bonnevie), the youngest of three princesses, who resides in a wintry land in the north known as Winterland. As her father, the King of Winterland (Jack Fjeldstad), points out, Winterland is a cold snowy place that teaches its people how to be strong and wise. This beautiful and kind princess is enchanted by a small portrait of Summerland (the warmer lusch and flowery land in the south) brought by the two merchants (played by Rudiger Kulbrodt and Ulrich Faulhaber). The King of Winterland purchases it for her. The princess, while looking at the beautiful landscape in the portrait, envisions how nice it would be to smell the flowers, feel the warm sun, and visit Summerland. Her elder two sisters (portrayed by Marika Enstad as the eldest, and Kristin Mack as the middle princess) point out how silly it is to fantasize about a place the youngest princess shall never see. These sisters, displaying very little sisterly compassion, tell their youngest sister to be satisfied with the life she has in Winterland. Of course, the youngest princess refuses to accept their assessment; continues to contentedly dream of Summerland and about a prince she might meet. In Summerland, a newly made King named Valemon (Tobias Hoesl) refuses to marry a witch (Anna-Lotta Larsson) who has grand desires of conquering the entire known world and has a great darkness in her heart. This witch accustomed to having her way, places an evil spell upon King Valemon that turns him into a polar bear for seven years. Only from midnight to dawn is he a man, and if he allows anyone to look upon his face during the seven years the spell is active, Valemon will marry the witch (no choice). Valemon has to wait out the seven years to be free of the spell. Unhappy with being placed under the witch's spell and not wanting to be without a bride or love, King Valemon leaves Summerland, traveling north, ending up in Winterland. There he meets the youngest princess, while she is out skiing supposedly with her sisters, alone. Valemon is surprised that the princess understands his plight. Delighted that she is willing to be his bride and return to Summerland with him. Valemon promises to come back in three days for her and gives the princess his golden chain of betrothal. When the King of Winterland finds out about their plans for elopement, he does all he can to prevent it, but when it comes down to killing the polar bear and breaking his youngest daughter's heart, the good King of Winterland allows his daughter to leave with the polar bear. This decision allows the princess to embrace her destiny as Valemon's bride, and become the most valuable person to King Valemon. She is the only one who can break the witch's curse, save King Valemon and restore happiness to Summerland.
"The Polar Bear King" teaches much within its storyline. The youngest princess does not have it easy in Summerland. She and King Valemon learn that through seven years of adversity can come their "happily ever after". That marriage is something you work at and for; takes nuturing and true love to make it work. This movie teaches a more realistic approach to what happens when a person leaves their home, begins a life out of their comfort zone, while maintaining the entertaining folk tale format.
Rest of primary cast (in order listed by credits) included: Monica Nordquist (King Valemon's mother), Helge Jordal (the witch's master, Devil), Jon Laxdal (Helper, who assists the youngest princess in destroying the witch's diabolical plans), Julie F. Langseth (a Princess of Summerland), Ruth Eury Tessand (another Princess of Summerland), and Mariann Gury Tessand (the youngest Princess of Summerland).
Well worth the 1 hour and 25 minutes in length. "The Polar Bear King" is rated NR. Could not tell why the lack of rating. Seemed "G" rated to me. Very pro family movie. Highly recommend!