Sydney Opera House design story set for big screen


The story behind the Sydney Opera House and its Danish architect Jorn Utzon is to be made into a film with the Swedish producer behind “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” at the helm.

The joint Danish/Swedish/Australian production “Utzon: The Man Behind the Opera House” will tell the story of how the designer upset the conservative Australian architectural establishment by winning an international competition to design the building and his battles to push through 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.


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, 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 finished building, which was opened in 1973 by 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 the film’s 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 casting details have been released and no date has been set for filming to start.

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