Gustav III:s äktenskap (The Marriage of Gustav III) (2001)




Director:     Marcus Olsson. 

Starring:    Jonas Karlsson (King Gustav III),  Anna-Clara Blixt (Washerwoman),  David Boati (Groom),  Tomas Bolme (Councillor Scheffer),  Brasse Brännström (Livmedicus Bäck),  Rebecka Englund (Mamsell Ramström),  Stefan Gödicke (Duke Karl),  Mathias Henrikson (Saddler),  Iben Hjejle (Queen Sofia Magdalena),  Harald Lönnbro (Duke Fredrik),  Malin Lundgren (Sofia Albertina), Simon Norrthon (Ekeblad),  Sanna Mari Patjas (Fröken Uggla),  Magnus Roosmann (Master of the Horse Munck),  Carlo Schmidt (Ehrensvärd),  Johanna Skobe (Hedvig Charlotta),  Eva Stellby (Kammarfrun),  Eva-Britt Strandberg (Queen Dowager),  Jonas Uddenmyr (King's Chamberlain),  Björn Wahlberg (Armfelt),  Hans Wigren (Councillor Schröderheim).

Gustav III of Sweden, nine years into his marriage


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 


Part I.

Stockholm Royal Palace, 1775.  A frozen court.  The Queen dowager has arrived  The King and Queen come into the room filled with people. 

The narrators says this this marriage was the result of a political decision taken in the chamber of the Four Estates.  A Danish woman was chosen contrary to the wishes of the court. 

Master of the Horse Munck is preparing to have sex with the Queen's servant Anna Sophia Ramström.  The session is broken up when the bell rings telling Anna that the Queen wants her.

The Queen does not like her mother-in-law, who doesn't care for the Queen. 

Ekolsund Palace.  In the summer of 1775 everything was to change forever.  The King says he wants a change in direction, in policy.  He goes on to say that there is a war on that plagues him.  He asks his two friends who will succeed him?  Surely not Prince Karl who many don't like and some fear him.  The King says he would like to have children.  He wants an heir.  But an ocean of ice separates him and his wife that has lasted for nine years.  He tells the guys that someone must break the ice  -- must be his postillon d'amour.  Both his friends volunteer.  But the King says he has decided to use Munck as an intermediary with the Queen to help the King find out what is going on in the Queen's circle and with the Queen herself. 

 The Kings friends go to find Munck, but he proved hard to find.  At this time he is busy fondling the breasts of the washerwoman.  He hears his name being called and goes to see who wants him.  Count Ekeblad takes Munck to talk with the King.  The King tells Munck that he knows Munck has access to the Queen and her circle through his connection with Miss Ramström.  This intimidates Munck who starts to excuse himself.  The King, however, says he doesn't care about the relationship.  He says:  "Your sin will be my redemption."  He swears Munck to absolute secrecy and tells him to use his contacts. 

The court with the presence of the King and Queen play a game of some sort.  A man is blind-folded and if he catches a woman he fondles her body (while everyone is clothed).  Then he goes to to catch another. 

Munck flirts with Miss Ramström, but suddenly she grabs him by the balls and asks him what he is doing with the laundry maid?  He says he is just there to get clean.  He changes the topic by saying he is on an errand for the King.  Anna is scared that perhaps His Majesty knows about their relationship.  Munck tells her to relax:  "Our liaisons have his blessing."  He also tells that she will tell no one about this except for the Queen.  He tells Anna what is going on. 

Anna asks to speak in private to the Queen.  It takes awhile to convince the Queen that she has something important to tell her and not just some piece of gossip.  Anna tells her and what the Queen wants o know is what are the intentions of the King?  She tells Anna that this is her message back to the King.  Anna tells Munck and Munck tells the King.  The King overreacts:  "Then it is finished!"  He thinks the Queen answers him with distrust.  Munck comes to the rescue.  He hints around about the relationship between the Queen and her mother-in-law and it suddenly dawns on the King:  "Can the Queen take my mother's loathing for my own?"  He says that when he first lay with the Queen he was just a boy and there was fear in each other.  He speaks "infantile embarrassment". 

Munck goes to see Miss Uggla to ask her for an audience with the Queen.  He says the Queen knows what it's about and he thinks that Miss Uggla knows too.  She smiles.  Munck gets to see the Queen.  He tells her that the King wants to come to the Queen in love and affection.  The Queen says:  "Such a curious change."  She had given up hope.  Munck adds that the King wants to be assured that between them there will be no unpleasantness about the past.  Only then will he come to her.  She is willing to forget the past, but she knows that he has always hated her.  Munck reminds her that the King did not have the upbringing that most men have.  This encourages the Queen so much that she wants to talk to the King right now. 

Munck tells the King the message.  He answers with an emphatic no.  He asks:  "What have I done?"  He says he is not ready, he wants to delay. 

The Queen grows impatient and restless with the delay.  For the first time she is rude to Munck.  She tells him that time is running out.  The Queen and Munck both agree that they must force the issue.  Munch tells the King that he must see his wife now.  The mother-in-law is coming soon and there there will be little chance of reconciliation between man and wife.  The King is still scared.  He wants to delay.  So he write a letter to his mother saying there is illness at the court and for the sake of her own healthy she should stay away from the palace.  This helps buy the King some time for when his mother reads the letter she tells her daughter that they are no longer welcome at the palace.  The sister says it's not true.  But mother insists that he has now some other love than his mother's.  He has other plans that don't include her. 

At a get together with members of the court the King starts to walk out, but turns around and wishes Her Majesty good night.  Then she shocks the King by requesting to see him.  While everyone looks at them, the King finally says: "Tomorrow."  But alone with Munck the King is very upset, saying:  "I fell right into the trap!"  He tells Munck that he is scared of failure with his wife.  Munck tries to encourage him. 

Anna tells Munk that this business with the King seems never-ending to her.   The two start to have sex, but the King knocks on the door of his room.  Munck has Anna hide in the cupboard.  He lets the King is who says he will see his wife on one condition:  that Munck accompany him.  Munck quickly says it just isn't appropriate, but the King tells him:  "It's an order!"  Munck goes and tells the Queen.  She accepts.  Munck now tells the King who seems relieved, but still apprehensive. 

Munck comes first into the Queen's room.  Then the King comes a little later.  He comes in but just stands there.  So the Queen approaches him, smiles, hugs him hard and cries.  At first he is shocked, but he smiles and hugs her back.  A little later Munck leaves the room.  The husband wants to go too, but the Queen holds onto his hands.  Still holding his hands she walks him over to a table and sits down, forcing him to sit in a chair opposite her. 

Munck waits for the King to come out.  When he does come out, Munck asks him if it went alright?  The King is irritated with him, so Munck figures it went badly.  But then the King says that he promised to see the Queen later in the evening.  Muncks says:  "Good!"

The Royal couple sit with others to listen to music.  When the music is finished, the King appears not to know what to say.  So tells the musicians to play more.  As they play their music, the King gets up and starts pacing around the room.  The Queen is becoming very impatient with him.  Now he looks out the window.  Everyone, including the musicians, are staring at his back. Then he has an idea.  He has the men and women of the court take a walk with him.  He stops on the walk to watch a peasant wedding celebration.  The Queen tells Munck that she is tired, he tells the King that the Queen requests permission to leave and the King gives his permission.  She leaves with the women and he stays to watch some more of the wedding. 

In the evening the Queen practices how she will sit and where she will sit for the entrance of the King.  The King, however, has gotten drunk and is fast asleep.  His men throw him into his bed.  The Queen waits so long that she falls asleep in her chair.  She wakes up frustrated and disappointed.  She climbs into bed. 

His Majesty finally awakens.  In her room the Queen paces.  She decides to write a note to her husband.  It is a profession of love and a commitment to the process of establishing a good relationship between the two of them.  His Majesty reads the note.  He is pleased and encourage to continue trying.  The King, however, is till full of fear.  Munck tells him there is nothing to fear, so the King tells him to come with him when he sees the Queen.  Munck doesn't want to but he knows the King will just make it an order if he resists. 

The King followed by Anna and Munck come into the bedroom of the Queen.  After awhile he asks Anna and Munck to leave the room.  They wait outside the door.  The husband takes off his outer clothing and hops into bed with his wife  She says:  "At last!"  They smile and laugh and then kiss.  Anna and Munck wait so long for the King that they fall asleep.  The next morning the King awakens Munck, who asks how it went.  The king just says:  "Fully capable!  Fully capable!"  Munck feels he can finally relax, but the King tells him next time he shall stay with him in the bedroom and show him what to do.  Now Munck feels upset and apprehensive. 

Munck informs the Queen of what will happen next.  He will be in the room.  The Queen starts crying.  Munck turns to leaves, but she tells hit to wait.  She says she will sacrifice all so that her husband may achieve his purpose. 

Munck stays outside at first.  But after awhile the little bell rings telling him that he is needed.  The King tells Munck:  "I cannot find the hole!"  So Munck grabs him forcefully and places him in the missionary position over his wife.  He then guides the King into the proper position for having sex.  They start slowly having sex and then slowly pick up the pace.  They both have smiles on their faces.  Munck figures is safe for him to leave now.  The couple are both ecstatic about their success.

Part II.

Stockholm Royal Palace, 1778.  The King's marriage was in defiance of his mother:  Louisa Ulrika, a former Princess of Prussia.  When she heard about her son's happiness over his marriage, she took it as a personal insult.  So the queen dowager remained away from the palace.

An heir to the Swedish throne is to be born.  The King announces it in public.  The queen dowager tells her son Prince Karl that someone must have helped the King.  Who was it?  Munck.  The dowager now conspires with her son Karl to do something about it.  She says she won't sit by and just watch a bastard child usurp the throne.  The mother believes that the son has betrayed her and she wants Karl to go and get his brother to confess.

Munck comes in to see the King, who wonders what troubles his friend.  He reporst that Prince Karl has just visited him and asked him if the King is really the father of the child.  This upsets the King and he says:  "So this is their revenge."  Revenge for spoiling their plans for themselves.  He adds:  "They shall die!"  He shouts to Munck:  "They are beasts!  Wolves!" 

Rumors fly throughout the court and the kingdom.  Gustav III confronts his brother Karl.  Karl is a bit worried and tells him that mother heard a rumor.  Gustav is not buying that.  Karl urges his brother to speak to their mother.  At home with his wife the King promises her that he will put an end to all of this. 

The King visits his mother.  He asks:  "How can a mother behave this way to her own son?"   Mother says it is out of "pure compassion".  She goes on to say that he has chosen sides against her.  Gustav III says he did his duty for his love of country and for his mother.  She strikes a low blow by telling him he is not man enough to do the job.  The King says he cannot believe that his own mother would believe these terrible things being said about him.  He leaves.

Alone with his wife he rails against his mother.  He says he was born a child, but is now an orphan.  He urges his wife to stay close together with him.  Their love will survive.  But his wife cries that she is afraid; that she cannot sleep.  He speaks kindly to fortify her courage and she feels better for it. 

Miss Ramström visits Munck.  She cries saying that she will have a child, but it will be an illegitimate one. 

The Queen calls her ladies-in-waiting together.  She says she knows they have heard the rumors and they are not to have any contract with the queen dowager or anyone else associated with her.  She turns and leaves.  The ladies are quite shocked at the news.  The Queen returns to her room, but she and Miss Uggla hear someone crying.  They investigate.  It's Miss Ramström and she won't stop crying even after being ordered to do so.  The Queen loses her patience with the woman for the umpteenth time and tells her she is dismissed.  She will get a pension, but she must go. 

Munck comes to speak to the King on behalf of Miss Ramström.  He sees that the King hesitates so he says that perhaps the firing could be misconstrued by the gossips.  They may say the Queen fired her aide in order to punish Munck, perhaps out of jealousy..  The King does ask the Queen about the matter, but she is adamant that Miss Ramström remain dismissed.  The King will have to tell Munck the bad news. 

The King says that he will banish his mother to Germany.  His siblings gather to beg him to reconsider.  His sister says that mother will just die if she is exiled.  They all say that mother now takes back all that she said.  The King's other brother Prince Frederik Adolph says that someone must have poisoned their mother's mind.  Prince Karl sees this as slander on his good name and they start to fence.  The King stops this nonsense.  He reminds his siblings that the honor of the King is the honor of Sweden.  If mother has forgotten him, then he must forget mother.  His sister asks permission to go to Germany with their mother and the King says:  "Granted!"  The younger brother asks permission to go too, but this time the King says:  "Refused!" 

The King's sister-in-law suggests that she and the King go see the Queen, thinking that she might be moe willing to forgive.  But the Queen absolutely refuses to forgive her mother-in-law.  The two return to the other room to tell the King's siblings.  Prince Frederik Adolph suggests there is another way.  Later the King tells his wife that there is another way.  The exile is off.  It is better to humiliate his mother by forcing her to sign an apology. 

Munck has to tell Miss Ramström that she will not be re-employed.  She cries. 

The King goes to see his mother accompanied by many witnesses.  An aide reads a statement saying that she, the queen dowager, denounces the rumors surrounding the birth of the Prince to be totally false.  Mother signs the document.  The narrator says: "So reconciliation was officially sanctioned.  But it was a confession of the quill, not of the heart."

The King is very happy.  A healthy baby boy has arrived.  Gustav III feels ecstatic.  But then he receives a letter from his mother.  She wants him to apologize for treating his mother so harshly.  He throws the letter up in the air and walks out of the room.  He cries. 

A few years later.  The Ice Regime.  The Queen and the ladies-in-waiting play blind man's bluff with the little Prince.  He runs into his father and takes his blindfold off to see who he has caught. They boy is a bit afraid of his father and runs back to the safety of his mother.  The King is disturbed by this.  So he takes his son out for a carriage ride.  The driver tells the King that they are approaching the coach of the queen dowager.  Neither coach will give way, so they both have to stop.  The King yells to his driver to get going so he goes around the other coach.  The King will not look at the other coach but he lets his son look  The boy's aunt looks at him, but makes no facial expression whatsoever. 

The King takes his boy away from the ladies to be more with the men.  The son is subjected to strict discipline.  The King and Queen clash over the best way to raise their son.  She asks her husband if it is his intention to try to break the band between mother and son?  At least they end up by kissing. 

The King has the doctor inoculate his son against smallpox behind the mother's back.  She is furious when she finds out.  She screams:  Am I to be always the last to know?  The wife says she does not understand her husband.  His is different now.  The King sends her away. 

Prince Karl does not like Munck.  He passes by him and doesn't like Munck speaking to him.  He complains to the King about Munck.  The King gets angry and asks how dare he, he who is a shop lifter and a whore monger.  His brother asks him to stop there.  The Prince has come to tell his brother that their mother is dying. 

The King and his son go to visit grandmother.  They arrive all of a sudden saying they wanted to surprise her.  But she demands a written request for an audience with her.  The King signs the request form.  The siblings leave the room, so it's just the son with grandmother.  The little prince stays outside in the outer room with his aunt and uncles.  Grandmother starts criticizing her son and he has to stop her by saying he did not come to quarrel with her.  He asks permission to bring in her grandson and she tells him to bring him in.  But grandmother doesn't say a word to him.  The aunt just picks the boy up so he can give grandmother a kiss on the forehead.  The King and his son leave. 

The doctor comes in to see the Queen.  He tells her that she is pregnant.  She and her husband again are very happy about the news. 

Grandmother dies.  The court is in mourning clothes, but everyone seems very happy nonetheless.  After the mourning period grandmother's portrait is removed.  The Queen gives birth to another boy. 

March.  The baby cries.  He has a fever and won't eat or drink anything.  The Queen is very worried and tells the doctor that she thinks it's something very serious  --  more serious than even the doctor believes.  The baby continues crying. 

Munck comes to ask the King to give him a military commission as a colonel.  Lt. General Armfelt snickers at the very idea and the King laughs.  Munck doesn't like that at all and leaves.  He goes to the stables and takes his bitterness out on one of his helpers, an older man.  He beats the man down with his cane. 

The baby is still sick.  Now the doctor agrees that it's serious.  The doctor goes to tell the king.  The King wants to know what is the illness, but the doctor and his colleagues do not know what it is.  The King asks them what will they do and the chief doctor says:  "Nothing."  The King goes ballistic.  They must do something!  There is always something one can do!  The King goes in to see the Queen and finds her kneeling at the side of the crib with her head hung low.  The King turns and walks out.  He shouts at the doctors again.  He says that this child's godparents are Marie Antoinette of France and Empress Catherine of Russia.  The Kings of Denmark and Prussia came to see him.  He tells them:  "Do something for God's sake!"  When the doctor replies that they have done all they can, the King slaps him across the face.  The doctor only says:  "It's in God's hands now."

Gustav III goes to church and asks in prayer if he is being punished for his own arrogance?  He asks God to spare the life of the boy and the King shall better himself. 

A whole room of important men wait with the King outside the room containing the baby, the mother and the doctor.  The Queen comes out and slowly shakes her head no.  The King goes berserk and starts pushing all the men out the door.  He hugs his wife hard while crying.  He then turns around and walks out.  Alone, the Queen cries. 

Haga Pavilion, later.  The King sits alone in a virtually empty room with a very large window.  Munck comes in with a message from the Queen.  He can't just keep sitting up here all alone like this.  The little prince has been asking for his father.  Munck tells the King not to abandon his son.  The King stops him by saying:  "Munck, your time is up.  Thank you."  Munch leaves. 

The Queen comes to talk to him.  Her husband talks about feeling so at home with his own melancholy.  The Queen begs him to come out from the room.  Their son wants to see him and she still loves her husband.  He still has his family.  Gustav III says that the family is an illusion.  The Queen says:  "How depraved you have become.  . . . Is there no hope left? . . . Is everything ice and ashes, my beloved?"  The Queen leans into him waiting for a response.  He hesitates awhile and finally says:  "Perhaps."


Very interesting psychiatric movie.  King Gustav III of Sweden was plagued by a personality disorder.  He was afraid to speak to his wife (and hadn't really done so for nine years).  On top of that he was plagued by a paralyzing performance anxiety about sex.  It is very interesting to see how the King forces his way through his fear.  He had to use another man as an intermediary with his wife so he could slowly approach her and grow more confident each time.  It was fascinating. 

That was Part I.  Part II is much more sad.  His own mother tries to bring the King down and he is forced to confront her.  Wicked rumors circulate about the real father of the child of the King.  The King and Queen have to confront these and flight those spreading the rumors. Hey, let's face reality.  Some mothers are just no good. 

Once again I would have appreciated more information about the historical period.  Important things had to have been going on during this time, but only one short reference is made to a current problem and that was the retirement of two men in the government. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.




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