UK, 1974, 102 minutes, Colour.
Peter Finch, Liv Ullmann, Cyril Cusack, Paul Rogers, Grahame Crowden.
Directed by Anthony Harvey.
Probably this should not considered as a historical spectacular, but rather as a psychological and political drama in costume setting. Attention focuses on Christina of Sweden, but audiences may find it rather difficult to identify with a heroine who does not understand herself and who by interrogation, memory, emotional crisis, begins to sort herself out. This distances the film from the viewer emotionally and makes it interesting (for those who wish to accept it; many may not be interested in this kind of history or religious emotional issues) rather than involving. Liv Ullmann is slightly stolid as Christina. Peter Finch acts with dignity.
1. Was this an impressive historical film? Was it an enjoyable spectacle? Was it an interesting film?
2. What was the main purpose for making the film? Entertainment, exploration of history, human interest and conflicts?
3. Was the film successful as spectacle: the portrayal of the Swedish court and Swedish life, the presentation of Rome and the Vatican, the costume and locations etc.?
4. How successful was the film as history? Did the situations seem real? Were they verified in fact? The quality and tone of the dialogue as seeming real or as contrived? The portrayal of post-Reformation politics? The Protestant background of Sweden, Catholic politics and the Vatican, public opinion in Europe as regards church and state? The people as real historical people? The exploration of the past to understand the present?
5. How did the film focus on Christina? The initial impressions of the actual abdication, her sense of freedom? The difficulty of understanding Christina as a character ? the film as an exploration by interrogation, memory? The fact that she did not understand herself and that audiences could not entirely sympathize with her? Did the film make us understand her situation with her? Did the film portray well what motivated her? In the abdication and in her conversion? The impact of the Rome reception on her, the shock of the interrogation and the effect that it had? Her probing of herself, unwillingness to ask questions. being fascinated into answering? The cumulative effect of the flashbacks? The crisis point in her emotional needs and response to the cardinal? The stance and her decisions for the future?
6. What kind of girl had Christina been? The sequences with the minister? The mother and the broken doll, the photographing of her alone on a throne and as hostile and in shadow? Her relationship to her father ? the style of the sequence beginning and ending with upraised hands, the atmosphere of war and the review of the troops. his not returning? The film's comment of the impact of mother and father on Christina? Christina as a girl instead of a boy? The discussions with the minister about protocol and her behaviour? Her growing up with her cousins ? childish games, adolescence.. growing up.. emotional tangles? Christina's need for love. her fear of sexuality and not understanding it? Her being set aside from the ordinary run of life? The nature of her love for Magnus and her disappointment in him? Her repulsion for Charles and unwillingness to marry? Her love for her cousin and quality of this love? What effect did this all have on Christina as a woman and as a Queen? The limitations on her freedom, her wanting to be free? Her spying on the lovemaking etc.? Her desperate need to love and for this to be proved to her? The exercise of her power? The growing momentum towards abdication? The themes of love, power.. freedom? Was the cumulative effect of this exploration effective?
7. What did the abdication mean in itself, for Christina, for her responsibilities, for Sweden?
8. Did the film explore well the reasons for her conversion? As giving up Sweden and Protestantism? The role of her power in Rome as she saw it? Negotiations with the Pope? The importance of her reputation in Rome, the flashbacks to the inns. her joyful response to the explanations of doctrine? (How important were these sequences for her conversion) Why did she become a Catholic?
9. Audience response to the picture of the 17th century church? The cardinals, suspicions of Christina's reputation?
Their unwillingness to receive her? Religion and politics and their intermingling?
10. Why did Christina respond so well to Azzolino? Azzolino as a cardinal? His later explanation of his background as priest, unfaithful priest, converted and penitential priest? Why did he elicit such a response from Christina? The intensity of his interrogation. yet his sympathy? Her offhand remarks to him, her playing games with him, her sincerity in speaking what she had never spoken before, the emotional release in replying to him? The quality of the love between them? The effect on the cardinal and his vocation and politics. The reality of his response as a man? The decision that they must not consummate their love? How credible was this? How credibly portrayed?
11. What was the ultimate effect of the experience of the three days on Christina? The final sequences of her in the
papal court amongst the cardinals at a distance from Azzolino?
12. The final effect on Azzolino himself, the sequences of his prayer, his vigil, relationships with the other Cardinals, discussion with the Pope?
13. How interesting was the presentation of the papal court - the presentation of the cardinals, visually? Their counsels, the Pope's dying, their manipulations, suspicions of Azzolino etc.?
14. The function of the dwarf companion for Christina – on her travels, In choosing the apartments in the Vatican, as standing by Christina during her nightmares etc.? The dwarf backing Sweden? The symbolism as explained in the film?
15. How well did the film use colour and light? Darkness? The initial candles? The use of symbols? The quality of the music? The religious overtones? The impact of the light and darkness, candles and music of the opening?
16. Did the film explore values of human living and social living? Successfully or in a commonplace way?