women in film & media
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Anna Karina in Pierre le Fou
Mika Kaurismaki's 'The Girl King' unveils a brilliant Queen Kristina
Queen Kristina (Malin Buska) of Sweden with Lord Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna (Michael Nykvist) flanked by Count Johan Oxenstierna (Lucas Bryant and Karl Gustav Kasimir (François Arnaud)
The Girl King
Mika Kaurismäki has made a quality and authentic study for modern audiences of Queen Kristina of Sweden in “The Girl King”. It debuts on VOD on Dec 8 via YouTube, Vudu and Google Play and the film's distributor Wolfe Video. Wolfe Video bought the North American rights at the Cannes Film Festival where the film debuted in May and has also released a DVD.
The 17th century regent of Sweden, daughter of the great king Gustav Vasa, has been the subject of several films including Rouben Mamoulian's 1933 epic "Queen Christina" starring Greta Garbo. Kaurismäki presents a sober and realistic portrait of the queen. He has shown her as a commanding figure with a court that could not accept that she wanted to have sovereign control over her life and her kingdom. Kaurismäki also tells the story of René Descartes whom Kristina invited to the Swedish court to instruct her on his theories.
In Kaurismäki’s film Descartes works against Kristina and helps to separate her from her lover Ebba Sparre (Sarah Godon) so she can fulfill her duties as Sweden’s queen and not become a Catholic. The love story is important to the history of Kristina and is given ample room in the film. Kaurismäki was incredibly captured by this brilliant thinker who ended the 30-year war and in so doing was a pioneer in working for a European Union. He regards her as an extraordinary woman who would be modern even today.
The time period of the film concerns Kristina from a young girl to the time she abdicated from the throne under the guise of becoming a Catholic. Karusimäki, if asked, said he would make another film about Kristina. After she left Sweden she brought with her a treasury of Swedish cultural artifacts. When she got to Italy, she created a lab where she studied alchemy and founded "Accademia dell'Arcadia". She was part of the Pope Clement X's inner circle and initially lived in Palazzo Farnese which was a model for part of the Swedish palace. Queen Kristina is buried in the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican.
Kaurismäki said the film took 10 years to make and during the process his editor died. His framing of the film has the form of chamber music – music created with few instruments, and usually in a palace chamber. It is a form that grows on you in its subtle power. There are few outdoor scenes and the castle is Finnish located in Turku. In this castle is the room where Kristina was actually conceived.
Michael Nykvist as Axel Oxenstierna, the Lord High Chancellor of Sweden, has an interesting role that departs from his usual action films as the man who tried to steer Kristina on the path her father had expected her to follow. Swedish actress Malin Buska as Kristina gives a compelling performance and brings to the screen the rage that such a brilliant woman must have possessed to be thwarted in love and in all her endeavors as a queen.