Sonja Henie: Queen of the Ice

2007
Distributed by Janson Media, 88 Semmons Road, Harrington Park, NJ 07640; 201-784-8488
Produced by Edvard Hambro
Directed by Edvard Hambro
DVD, color and b&w, 108 min.
Sr. High - General Adult
Sports


Reviewed by Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State University Libraries, Bowling Green, OH

Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 1/11/2013

This is a straightforward biography of champion Norwegian figure skater Sonja Henie (1912-1969) that was originally released by NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) in 1993. Henie was an extraordinary skater who won ten consecutive World Figure Skating Championships (1927-1936) and three Olympic gold medals (1928, 1932, 1936). Henie turned professional following the 1936 World Championships and came to the United States where she became a Hollywood star. Because Henie’s movies and her touring skating shows were so well received, she sparked worldwide interest that evolved into the wildly popular U.S. and international skating sport, community, and industry we have today.

Henie became a figure of some controversy when she acknowledged Adolf Hitler with a Nazi salute when she met him in Berlin prior to the 1936 Winter Olympics. She further alienated those in Nazi occupied Norway in the 1940s by withholding monetary support for training resistance troops in Canada’s “Little Norway.” Though her reception at ice shows in Norway in 1953 indicated the public had largely forgiven Sonja’s indiscretions, later interactions with the King, Queen, and Norwegian politicians were personal disappointments to Henie.

This video is recommended for those interested in the history and development of amateur, professional, and Olympic figure skating, also those interested in the popular culture aspects of ice skating films and ice shows. Though the filmmaker was able to interview Henie’s personal secretary, former skating partners, and movie co-star Cesar Romero concerning aspects of her personality, her competitiveness and athleticism, the film suffers from the lack of any personal commentary from Henie on the controversial aspects of her life. One suspects that such commentary, which could have been reconstructed from published interviews, diaries, memoirs, even related by her surviving contemporaries, just doesn’t exist. Without it, Sonja Henie remains an enigmatic ice queen.