Movie review of “The Last King”: Norwegian director Nils Gaup made this folk tale about ski champions who protect a child with a royal following. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.

Share story

In 1987, Norwegian director Nils Gaup made the first film in the Lapp language, “Pathfinder,” a folk tale about a teenager who leads killers away from his village. Nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film (it lost to Denmark’s “Babette’s Feast”), it was remade as a 2007 American thriller and established Gaup as a filmmaker to watch.

His latest picture, “The Last King,” made its local debut at the Seattle International Film Festival last month and returns this weekend to the Uptown.

A breathless, snowbound adventure in the tradition of “Pathfinder,” the new movie takes place in 1204 in Norway, where a couple of ski champions try to protect a baby who has a royal and often brutal following. He’s the son of the freshly deceased king.

Movie Review ★★½  

‘The Last King,’ with Jakob Oftebro, Kristofer Hivju, Pal Sverre Hagen, Thorbjorn Harr. Directed by Nils Gaup, from a screenplay by Ravn Laneskog. 100 minutes. Rated R for violence and a scene of sexuality. In Norwegian, with English subtitles. SIFF Cinema Uptown.

The athletic duo who look out for him are played by Kristofer Hivju (from HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) and Jakob Oftebro (from the recent remake of “Kon-Tiki”). They spend a lot of screen time on skis, which provide the main means of transportation between the huts and palaces where most of the court intrigue takes place.

Gaup deftly keeps track of the major betrayals without making them seem too obvious, but we’re never as involved with the characters as we were in “Pathfinder.” Maybe that’s because the baby is given plenty of opportunities to take over. And charmingly does.