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The dramatic story of the creation of the Sydney Opera House, acknowledged as one of the seven wonders of the modern world, is being developed as a feature film with the working title Utzon: The Man Behind the Opera House in an Australian-Swedish-Danish co-production.
Danish executive producer Ole Sondberg (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), under his Good Company Films shingle, Swedish-Australian producer Jann Marnell from Right2Know, and Australian producers Marion Magowan (South Solitary) and Peter Herbert are aiming to bring to the big screen the story of Jørn Utzon’s revolutionary creation and the Danish architect’s battles with a corrupt NSW governmen that forced his resignation from the project. Utzon died in 2008 without ever seeing the finished building in person. He redesigned several areas of the opera house in 2000 and was awarded architecture’s highest honor, the Pritzker Prize, for his work in 2003.
Petter Skavlan, the writer of Kon-Tiki, is developing the screenplay, while Right 2Know’s Lars Weiss will also executive produce. Skavlan is writing new Jonathan Rhys-Meyers starrer The 12th Man, which was recently being shopped at the Cannes Film Festival market.
“We have a world wonder. We have its creator – who wasn´t allowed to see his dream fulfilled. We have creativity versus bureaucracy and political maneuevering 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. We are incredibly excited about the prospect of telling the story of the creation of the Sydney Opera house,” Marnell said.
“Against all odds, Utzon managed to build his opera house, and the epic battle between the architect and the corrupt Askin government is perfect movie material. This rich, dramatic story will play out during the construction of one of the world’s most iconic buildings, of which Louis Kahn said, ‘The sun did not know how beautiful its light was until it was reflected off this building.’ In many ways the story of Jørn Utzon and the Sydney Opera House can be compared to Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, but with Rand’s merciless objectivism replaced by Utzon’s creative humanism,” Skavlan added.
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