“The Girl King” star Malin Buska and director Mika Kaurismäki on Sweden’s queer queen

Sweden’s Queen Christina has been the subject of much fascination for centuries. Raised to be a king, the monarch ruled for 22 years until she abdicated the throne. History tells us he was a lover of art, philosophy and women. The Girl King, directed by Mika Kaurismäki and starring Malin Buska as the controversial queen, tackles much of Christina’s life, including her androgynous style and her love for lady-in-waiting, Ebba Sparre.

malinphotos courtesy Wolfe Video

Mika, a prolific Finnish director, was asked more than 15 years ago to be a part of a film about Queen Christina, a figure he already knew much about from history classes in high school.

“I was hooked,” Mika said. “Her story and this—characternd then after that I read about her and tried to find out some things. Suddenly somebody asked me about if I was interested in doing a film. I didn’t hesitate at all.”

Hundreds of years after her death, Christina still generates interest, and that’s for good reason. 

“She’s a very different character and a very modern character,” Mika said. “I was not interested in doing a period film—a museum film—because I think even today would be most very modern with her ideas.”  

One of those more modern ways of thinking was Christina’s openness to embrace love with both men and women.

“I think we are more Puritan nowadays,” Mika said. “It was not unusual that young women had very intimate relationships at that time. It was tolerated much better than in our times. I think it’s also partly because all the men were in the war. The men were fighting in the war, and the girls were left alone at home, and the men had relationships during the war, on the field. It was really tolerated, but I think Christina went too far with this relationship,” he added, referencing Christina’s all-consuming love affair with Ebba, which is at the heart of The Girl King.  

Director Mika Kaurismaki - Photo courtesy of Wolfe  Video

While an experienced stage actress, Queen Christina is certainly Malin Buska’s breakthrough role. She appears in almost every scene and carries the gravitas and vulnerability needed to tackle such an iconic character. Malin was born and raised in a Swedish small town near the arctic circle where she, too, learned a lot about Queen Christina growing up.

“I knew a lot about her before—that she was growing up as a boy and that she was crowned when she was six years old,” Malins aid. “And that she was into art and wanted to educate the country—I knew that kind of thing. I didn’t know so much about her sexuality when I was younger.”

For Malin, it’s less about Christina’s sexuality and more about love.

“I don’t really get why it’s so difficult to understand. People are just loving other people.” Malin said. “She had open relationships. She was open with her love for Ebba, but she also liked men. She was a free spirit.”

Malin said she “of course” felt pressure playing such a notable and famous Swedish figure.

“[Greta] Garbo did it in 1933 and she was an amazing actor,” Malin said. “She’s also like very iconic. It feels like she still is alive. But also Christina as a character—it was a little bit scary, but then I just needed to make my own interpretation of her and just try to and get her inside of me. To have her in my heart and my brain, you know—to take her into my soul.”

Sarah Gadon (left) and Malin Buska (right) in THE GIRL  KING - Photo courtesy of Wolfe Video-1

When is came to Ebba,  Malin said she thought the relationship between the women could have changed the way Christina ruled over her country.

“I think everything you go through changes you and your perspective,” Malin said. “She refused to get married and she didn’t want to have kids. She also knew if she was going to be the King of Sweden and have the power that she had, she needed to get married with a man and to get kids, and she knew that wasn’t possible. he would lose the power anyway. If she got married then she would be a queen, and have the title of the Queen and not have the power.”

Basically, Christina was in a no-win situation.

“In a way, she really didn’t have a choice but to abdicate and convert and just leave Sweden in a way,” Malin said. “But I think also, she was so in love with Ebba, from what I have been reading about this, she could never really get over her.”

You can watch the life of Queen Christina unfold in The Girl King, now available through Wolfe Video.