Mika Kaurismäki is the director of the new film The Girl King. The film tells the story of Queen Kristina of Sweden, who in the 17th century at the age of eighteen attempted to modernize Sweden and has become known as one of the earliest feminist figures in Europe.
The Girl King picks up as Kristina assumes official control of her country at age eighteen and finds herself at odds with a conservative court dominated by men. They distrust her military acumen when she proposes to end a thirty-year war between Protestants and Catholics, and they bristle when she decides to make Sweden a country of “curiosity and knowledge,” and begins importing important artwork, scientific texts, and the ideas of René Descartes.
In addition to challenging her conservative court on issues of military strategy and religion, Kristina turns away all her suitors and rejects the idea that she has to produce male heir. Instead, she pursues a romance with her lady in waiting, a relationship that takes center stage in The Girl King.
Last week, I spoke with director Mika Kaurismäki about his new film. We talked about Kristina’s life, the challenges of making a period film, and what a person from the 17th century has to teach us in the 21st.
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