Wizards in a female sense

Charlotte Sieling and Trine Dyrholm on Margrete: Queen Of The North

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Trine Dyrholm on Margrete in Charlotte Sieling’s Margrete: Queen Of The North (Margrete Den Første) “When the costumes and all the hair pieces came along, I think we fulfilled the character together with Charlotte.”
Trine Dyrholm on Margrete in Charlotte Sieling’s Margrete: Queen Of The North (Margrete Den Første) “When the costumes and all the hair pieces came along, I think we fulfilled the character together with Charlotte.” Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Margrete: Queen Of The North (Margrete Den Første) director Charlotte Sieling and her star Trine Dyrholm discuss with me the costumes by Manon Rasmussen (Thomas Vinterberg’s Oscar-winner Another Round, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, Nymphomaniac: Vol. I, Manderlay, Dogville, Dancer In The Dark), the hair and makeup by AnnaCarin Lock, the choreography by Niclas Bendixen, the production design of Søren Schwartzberg, horseback riding, the authority and foresight of Margrete, and Margrethe II attending the premiere.

Charlotte Sieling with Trine Dyrholm and Anne-Katrin Titze on her design team: “What was amazing about it, was that before Trine came in and gave life to all this, was that it was so creative.”
Charlotte Sieling with Trine Dyrholm and Anne-Katrin Titze on her design team: “What was amazing about it, was that before Trine came in and gave life to all this, was that it was so creative.”

Charlotte Sieling’s bold and beautiful Margrete: Queen Of The North, co-written with Jesper Fink and Maya Ilsøe and shot by Rasmus Videbæk, is the story of a ruler, played with great force, humour, and tenderness by Trine Dyrholm (magnificent as Nico in Susanna Nicchiarelli’s Nico, 1988). Based on historical events and historical mysteries, the film asks questions that are still relevant today about compromise and loyalty, desire and justice.

A little girl dips her fingers in a chalice of water. A man washes his hands from the blood of battle. A royal ring passes from him to her. The girl (Nicole Rosney) with the big concerned eyes, dirty face, and crown on her head will become Margrete (Trine Dyrholm), creator of the Kalmar Union, which lasted for 126 years and braided together Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in unprecedented peace.

The year is 1402 and Margrete rules with her adopted son Erik (Morten Hee Andersen) and her religious advisor Peder (Søren Malling, the father in Christian Tafdrup’s Parents), when a man appears who claims to be her biological son and legal heir. Trouble is brewing from the Teutonic neighbour and the union of Erik with Princess Philippa (Diana Martinová) of England may not work out the way it was planned. As much as Margrete insists that “peace has made us wealthy,” she knows that there are forces abound who want power and don’t mind plunging their countries back into war.

The magnificent costumes provide just the right armor and help transport us into a royal Nordic past with falconry, horseback riding on the stormy cliffs, where pirates are consulted and scolded. Yet, it is Margrete’s decision making, her intelligence and her achievements for peace that stay with you most.

From Copenhagen, Charlotte Sieling and Trine Dyrholm joined me on Zoom for an in-depth conversation on Margrete: Queen of the North.

Anne-Katrin Titze: Hello! Nice to meet you!

Charlotte Sieling: Hello! Nice to meet you, too! We’re waiting for Trine, I guess.

AKT: I’m admitting her this very moment.

Margrethe (Trine Dyrholm) with Erik (Morten Hee Andersen) and Peder (Søren Malling)
Margrethe (Trine Dyrholm) with Erik (Morten Hee Andersen) and Peder (Søren Malling) Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Trine Dyrholm: Hello!

AKT: Nice to see you again. We spoke on Nico, 1988 in 2018 in New York.

TD: Good to see you again!

AKT: Your beautiful film is a costume drama, so let’s start with the costumes, which are spectacular. Manon Rasmussen did wonderful costumes for Lars von Trier in the pst. Let’s go from the outside in or inside out and start with the clothes.

CS: Manon is part of my team, so I knew from the beginning that she would be part of this. Manon is the kind of person who works very opposite of my production designer [Søren Schwartzberg]. He’s like an architect, he draws and you can see everything; he goes from outside in. Actually as you said now, Manon goes from inside out. You don’t actually know what is happening there. You feel a lot of material, you talk some.

And then one thing we definitely agreed on was that we couldn’t cheat in terms of the time. It had to have the right measuring of everything. When you see the hair, something strange happened. I didn’t know so much about my hair and makeup woman [AnnaCarin Lock], I didn’t know she was a nerd about braiding.

Erik (Morten Hee Andersen) with Astrid (Agnes Westerlund Rase)
Erik (Morten Hee Andersen) with Astrid (Agnes Westerlund Rase) Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Films

AKT: Those braids are fantastic!

CS: Crazy! And the more crazy she went with the hair, the less crazy Manon went with the costumes. We didn’t even talk about it and they didn’t, but it ended up that way because they’re so sensitive, I guess, both of them. I was just watching and like a snowball rolling, I kept it on the path. Don’t mess with those ladies because once they’re on the go, you can just see that this is really something. We’re on a low budget in a big movie like this, so it’s actually what you see is like wizards. They’re both wizards in a female sense, I have no idea how that happened.

AKT: You don’t need money for braids!

CS: What was amazing about it, was that before Trine came in and gave life to all this, was that it was so creative. It was crazily creative; I can’t even explain.

AKT: Trine, how did the costumes and these braids help you get into the Queen?

TD: That was a big part of my character work. The costumes you have to understand how to wear them because they make you a little stiff, but that was also good for me for the character. But then you also want it to be real people. I think all the hairpieces are paraphrases for the crown and it was almost like putting on a mask. It helped me so much to put on the character and then something happened. When the costumes and all the hair pieces came along, I think we fulfilled the character together with Charlotte.

AKT: Let’s talk about the dance with the hands in front of the eyes. Is there a historical precedent for this dance or was it made up? Trina, you have beautiful smiles and little grins while dancing.

Margrete: Queen Of The North is screening in Los Angeles and on Video on Demand
Margrete: Queen Of The North is screening in Los Angeles and on Video on Demand

CS: It was the choreographer [Niclas Bendixen] who came with the idea after having made the research. It’s one of those things when you have the right team, as with the costumes we talked about and the hair. As with the hair, I didn’t know about the choreographer I invited in, I just loved him and knew that he was a storytelling guy. What happens when you release all that power is stuff like that. Actually in the script it wasn’t supposed to be twice. When Erik dances with Astrid [Agnes Westerlund Rase], it was a love scene but then just before making it I realized, oh I don’t want to explore all these young bodies.

AKT: You made it a dance, which is perfect.

CS: Because it had so much poetry in it. That was one of those gifts you get when you have talented people around you.

AKT: Did you like the dance, Trine?

TD: I loved the dance, it was so fun to do it. Especially because it tells a story, I agree. It has poetry, it tells a story, there are things we should not watch here - there are a lot of metaphors in the dance. I find it very moving in that scene with Astrid and Erik and that it comes again.

AKT: My final question is about the present Queen of Denmark who is named after the first. What was the second Margrete thinking of your film?

CS: It’s actually the other way around. She called herself Margrete II when she was crowned when she was 35. Margrete I didn’t have that title until Margaret II was crowned, which was such a credit to the first Margrete, who was not a queen in Denmark. That’s the weirdest thing, she was queen of Norway. Margrete II when she was 35 and crowned, she said I don’t care if she was not a queen of Denmark, she was a queen of us. That’s very powerful. Trine has a way of describing her reaction, so I hand the spoon over to you.

TD: She was at our gala opening. You know, we did the red carpet and then we had to escort her to the room. We came into the room, there was silence, everybody stood up. Then she was placed in the middle of the cinema with Charlotte and me on each side. Then the movie starts. Ten minutes into the movie, I as Margrete I, stand up at the party; everybody stands up, I’m leaving and there’s a huge silence. The moment was so magical because it had just happened, like ten minutes ago in 2021. It felt like history was like a bird - you could feel the whoosh…

Margrethe (Trine Dyrholm) with Erik (Morten Hee Andersen), Peder (Søren Malling), and her court
Margrethe (Trine Dyrholm) with Erik (Morten Hee Andersen), Peder (Søren Malling), and her court Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Films

CS: … of history! Yes!

TD: That made a huge impact on us. After that we had a glass of wine with her and she liked the film. She was happy about the film and thought it was good.

AKT: It’s beautiful.

TD: Thank you!

CS: Thank you so much!

AKT: Happy Holidays to you!

TD: To you too!

CS: The same!

Coming up - Charlotte Sieling and Trine Dyrholm on horseback riding, 'women peace', plant metaphors, working on a character and the architecture of the script with Jesper Fink, Princess Philippa, and pirates.

Margrete: Queen Of The North opened in Los Angeles on December 17.

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