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Sweden’s Queer ‘Girl King’

Sweden’s Queer ‘Girl King’

I have always gravitated to the films that pull us back in time to the grandeur or spectacle of royalty and those who attend them in the 15th, 16th and 17th century. In The Girl King, Director Mika Kaurismaki thrusts us into the world of Sweden with his brilliant view of a queen that shall make all of us want to return to our college history classes to find out more about her and this time in history.

Starring Malin Buska as Queen Kristina and 
Sarah Gadon as her lover, The Girl King eexplores the historical significance of a woman who possesses the traditional machismo associated with great warrior kings. But, oh, it is so much more than that.

In 1632, at the age of 6, Kristina Vasa became the first native, female sovereign of Sweden when her father died on the battlefield. Raised as a prince, Kristina grows up with ideas for modernizing Sweden and bringing an end to war. She struggles against the conservative forces in court that have no tolerance for these ideas or for her awakening sexuality and quest for knowledge.

It is no secret that her glances at the enticing Countess Ebba Sparre are filled with longing and lust. Kristina becomes highly interested in her lady-in-waiting, the beautiful and elegant Countess Ebba Sparre. She anoints her the Queen’s Bed Companion, an important position held by those designated to warm the sheets of their ruler. Wouldn’t you like to read this job description?

The interactions between the men of the Court who want a liaison between the Countess and the Queen for political reasons and the Queen who wants more than a bed warmer, proves to be the catalyst for a tortuous awakening. I liken it to a well-plumed eagle cracking through an extra hard shell.

The Girl King is best described as a journey of awakening and self-discovery. Is it a love story? Yes, though the men of the Court least expected love to be found. More importantly, Queen Kristina and Countess Ebba discover that love, though highly frowned upon by Court and church, cannot stop it from emerging. Ah, how quickly one can learn the art of the kiss? How quickly can one embrace the three ”L’s-Lust, Love and Loss? Just wait until it is 1654 when the twists, turns, sub-plots grow thick with incredible surprises. In other words, I won’t reveal it, but highly encourage you to see it. You will not be disappointed.

Three things I want to touch upon that still haunt me. First, the score and cinematography are magnificent.  They are as much characters in the film as the actors. Second,  Malin Buska IS Queen Kristina. She embodies her as if channeling her. Third, this is a true story, which makes it all the more powerful. The last line on the screen as the film ends is just a short statement of fact. But, in reality, it sums up a life of power and successful without the one thing our Queen wanted- a forever and open love with the one woman who warmed her bed. I dare you to not be wanting more.

The story is rich and full bodied. Each character is integral to the film. The costuming is  equally integral.  Therefore, you can feel yourself becoming drawn into this world that you cannot imagine. You stand in the Court with these people. This is not the world of say Henry VIII or the world of Games of Thrones. It is as large, but it is more importantly a world where a complex and real woman shows us what it means to almost have it all and survive.

The Girl King debuts on 12/8 on DVD via Wolfe Video and many major retailers, and across all digital platforms including iTunes, Vimeo On Demand, and Also opening theatrically in select cities on Friday, December 4th: Los Angeles – Laemmle Royal, Larkspur – The Lark, San Jose – Camera Cinemas, Minneapolis – St. Anthony Main Theatre.


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  • Alicia Orozco says:

    Thank you for this great review. There is another version of this story starring Greta Garbo as Queen Christina. For its time it is amazing what they are able to show.

  • Jan says:

    It is quite a stunning film. I remember the Garbo version well and, if I recall correctly, it created much Hollywood speculation about Garbo’s sexual fluidity at that time.