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Upcoming Feature Film to Chronicle the Trials and Tribulations of Jørn Utzon and the Sydney Opera House

Upcoming Feature Film to Chronicle the Trials and Tribulations of Jørn Utzon and the Sydney Opera House
Upcoming Feature Film to Chronicle the Trials and Tribulations of Jørn Utzon and the Sydney Opera House, Courtesy of Flickr user Chris Maidlow, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0
Courtesy of Flickr user Chris Maidlow, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic buildings in the world. A momentous achievement in design and engineering, the building quickly cemented itself as a defining feature of the Australian cultural landscape. But the realization of the building was not a straightforward one, and almost immediately after the project was awarded it became fraught with controversy and uncertainty. At the center of this controversy was the architect, Jørn Utzon, who eventually resigned after mounting conflict with the state government. Now, this period of Utzon's life will be chronicled in a new feature length film, Utzon, The Man Behind the Opera House, reports The Guardian.

Utzon, a relatively unknown architect at the time, agitated the conventional Australian architectural climate with his radical competition-winning design for the Opera House in 1956. The dynamic nature of the proposal required innumerable iterations to perfect the structure of the soaring "sails," and tight deadlines saw construction begin before documentation was complete. As the construction process wore on, more problems arose, and Utzon's relationship with the financing state government began to sour. 

His mounting ostracization eventually hit breaking point in 1965 when newly appointment state premier Robin Askin began to openly blame Utzon for the issues. Utzon resigned in 1966, returning to Denmark and washing his hands of the project. The Guardian reported that the film's producers believe this story holds the right amount of drama for a feature film, with the film's screenwriter, Petter Skavlan, proclaiming that the “epic battle between the architect and the corrupt Askin government is perfect movie material."

Utzon returned to the project decades later, working on additions and redesigns before his death in 2008. However, he never returned to Australia, and never witnessed his monumental design in person. Despite the Order of Australia Medal being awarded to him in 1985 and the Pritzker Prize in 2003, the trials of the process stayed with Utzon until he died.

It is this dramatic process without resolution that the film's creators were so drawn to. The film's producer, Jan Marnell said: “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 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. What do they want? In the end, they want to take back what they believe should have been theirs in the first place.”

News via The Guardian.

AD Classics: Sydney Opera House / Jørn Utzon

From the architect. There are few buildings as famous as the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia. Arguably considered the eighth wonder of the world, the opera house has a long history behind its design.

About this author
Cite: Lauren Crockett. "Upcoming Feature Film to Chronicle the Trials and Tribulations of Jørn Utzon and the Sydney Opera House" 18 Jun 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/789213/upcoming-feature-film-to-chronicle-the-trials-and-tribulations-of-jorn-utzon-and-the-sydney-opera-house/> ISSN 0719-8884
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