Ladies and gentlemen,
I’m delighted to be here at the opening of “The Wild Swans” exhibition, here at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. An exhibition that gives insight into the making of the film version of the fairytale “The Wild Swans”.
This fairytale was written by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen – one of the world’s most well-known and cherished storytellers.
His fairytales have been translated into more than 150 languages. The work of Hans Christian Andersen is appealing to most people because it never becomes trivial or predictable.
Some of the fairy tales have happy endings, while others are sad. Some of the stories are set in fantasy lands, while others take place in a realistic universe.
Hans Christian Andersen’s writing is often funny and whimsical, but at the same time, it has a serious and unsettling undertone which keeps us on the edge of our seats.
Precious moments are shared between parents and children when reading stories at bedtime. My parents read Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales to me when I was a child. And today, my husband and I share the very same fairytales with our own children.
These fairytales are classics and remain to this very day popular with children all around the world.
Not only are the stories entertaining, exciting and a little scary, but they also teach valuable lessons and promote reading.
However, Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales are equally relevant for adults. The stories are complex, and they raise universal moral and social issues.
A perfect example of this is “The Wild Swans”. The story about young Elisa’s struggle to save her 11 beloved, but bewitched brothers is certainly a true fairy tale.
A classic Andersen story about faith, courage, moral strength and endurance. Themes of universal appeal, irrespective of time and place, or age or gender of the reader.
The exhibition I am about to open draws us into this fascinating world of Hans Christian Andersen, which has enchanted readers all over the world for almost two hundred years.
And the exhibition also tells us, by means of costumes and drawings, props and set-pieces another fascinating story: how the innovative film “The Wild Swans” was created.
The story about how the filmmaker Jacob Jørgensen, in collaboration with my mother-in-law, Queen Margrethe, succeeded in combining modern technology with the old art of decoupage.
The Queen has composed the decoupage from pieces of paper – carefully selected images cut out of, for example magazines, catalogues, newspapers. These compositions are used as backdrops in the film and the actors, dressed in costumes also designed by the Queen, are transposed into the scenery using green screen technology.
The result is the creation of a magical universe and a convincing and moving film. A film, I hope will appeal to you as much as it has to me.
Hans Christian Andersen was an avid traveller but, to imagine an exhibition about his medieval folk tale from 1838, would make its way to the magnificent Hermitage in 2012 is quite a stretch, even for him.
No doubt he would have been very proud.
With these words I now declare ‘The Wild Swans’ exhibition, officially open.
Thank you and enjoy.