Monday, 18 May 2015

Queen Christina of Sweden - a Swordswoman

Queen Christina is arguably one of the most intriguing queens in history. She was born in 1626 and her father, King Gustavus Adolphus, died on a battlefield when she was only 6 years old. Nevertheless, Gustavus Adolphus had time to have a great influence on her, as he raised her more or less like a boy (from the perspective of the 17th century world) by, for example, taking her to see soldiers firing cannons when she was very little. Later in her life, alongside diplomacy and culture, she continued practicing her skills in hunting, swordsmanship, cannoneering and horseback riding.

We visited the exhibition at the Turku Castle showing the costumes and props used in the upcoming film Girl King by Mika Kaurismäki and I was pleasantly surprised that these aspects of the Queen's character (instead of some of the more better known ones) seem to have been taken into account in the script. One of the costumes on show is Queen Christina's swordsplay outfit, including her sword.

What's interesting about this sword is that it is actually Hanwei's replica of Gustavus Adolphus's sword. Clearly, the film makers wished to find a sword that could have been found in Christina's armoury, but I'm not convinced by their choice. I've talked about Gustavus Adolphus's rapier before and back then I noted that Hanwei's replica is actually anything but: They have effectively attached a 19th century fencing blade onto a 17th century rapier hilt and even the hilt manages to be largely dissimilar from the original.

I doubt many viewers will see a problem with the sword and I'm not even sure how large a part it will have in the film, but I must say that I was somewhat annoyed by what I saw. Still, I hope to be able to ignore this one fault. The costumes and other props lead me to believe that the film will be very much worth seeing!