SYDNEY, June 7, (Agencies): The story behind the Sydney Opera House and its Danish architect Jorn Utzon is to be made into a movie, with the Swedish producer behind “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” on board.
The Danish/Swedish/Australian production will tell the story of how Utzon upset the conservative Australian architectural establishment by winning an international competition to design the building and his battles to push through his radical ideas.
“Utzon was a great Danish architect and the story of how he created the Sydney Opera is both fascinating and scary. This story has to be told,” said executive producer Ole Sondberg in a statement late Monday.
Sondberg is best known for producing “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and the “Millennium-trilogy” based on Stieg Larsson’s novels. He was also behind the popular “Wallander” television series.
Utzon arrived in Sydney as a celebrity in 1957 but his ambitious design, with the building’s distinctive white sails drawn from his childhood in the Aalborg shipyards, was hit by domestic politics, petty jealousies and budget constraints.
The controversies that dogged him and the project for years saw him quit in 1966.
He never returned to see his revolutionary concept as a finished building, which was opened in 1973 by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, and he died in 2008.
A year before his death, the harbourside building was added to the World Heritage List, with the committee saying the structure “stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind.”
“We have a world wonder. We have its creator who wasn’t allowed to see his dream fulfilled,” said Swedish-Australian producer Jan Marnell.
“We have creativity versus bureaucracy and political manoeuvring ranging from friend to foe. We have an outstanding architect with streaks of megalomania and genius, and his vengeful opponents who plot to get him out of the country.
“It has all it takes for the big screen.”
No details were given on when “Utzon: The Man Behind the Opera House” would begin filming.
The film will center on Danish architect Jorn Utzon, who won the international competition in 1957 to design an opera house on Sydney’s Bennelong Point with its revolutionary shell-shaped exteriors. Due to budget constraints and political infighting, Utzon resigned in 1966, seven years before the building was completed and opened.
The project is currently titled “Utzon, the Man Behind the Opera House.” Producers are Swedish-Australian producer Jan Marnell from Right2Screen and Australian producers Marian Macgowan from Macgowan Films and Peter Herbert. Executive producers are Denmark’s Ole Sondberg from Good Company Films and Sweden’s Lars Weiss, also from Right2Screen.
Sondberg was an exec producer on David Fincher’s 2011 thriller “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
“Utzon was a great Danish architect and the story of how he created the Sydney opera — is both fascinating and scary,” Sondberg said. “This story has to be told.”
After being chosen as the building’s architect, Utzon was encouraged by New South Wales Premier Joseph Cahill but his good fortune dramatically turned when the Liberal government of Robert Askin was elected in 1965. Utzon found himself in conflict with the new Minister of Works Davis Hughes, who stopped payments, resulting in Utzon’s resignation and departure from Australia, never to return.
In 2003, Utzon was awarded an honorary doctorate for his work on the Opera House by the University of Sydney and the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honour. Utzon passed away in 2008.
“I have been fascinated by the story of Jorn Utzon and the Sydney Opera House for many years and look forward to finally getting the project under way,” Skavlan said.
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