Danish director Nicolaj Arcel, whose Island of Lost Souls sold 195,000 tickets domestically, is preparing a feature film about the relationship between Danish King Christian VII, Queen Caroline Mathilde and German-born physician-in-ordinary Johann Friedrich Struensee, who was executed in 1772 - 235 years ago.
Over the years several projects have been developed on the story, among others Physician-in-Ordinary, from Swedish author Per Olov Enquist's novel, but now Denmark's Zentropa Entertainments is set to produce the film about a man 'who almost changed the course of history,' Arcel says.
Arcel is currently writing the script with Rasmus Heisterberg - with whom he wrote the award-winning King's Game - and director colleague Lars von Trier. The collaboration is a good one, Arcel says, 'because Lars and I are totally different.' He will include themes from Danish author Bodil Steensen-Leth's novel, Princess of the Blood.
In 1769 Struensee became the physician-in-ordinary to the insane King Christian VII, and he gained strong influence at court both because of his successful treatment of the king and as the queen's lover. Appointed cabinet minister in 1790, he more or less governed Denmark during 18 months.
He issued about 2,000 cabinet orders, introducing freedom of the press, abolishing torture - but his reforming zeal, his Germanness and his romantic liaison with the queen made him enemies. In January 1772 he was brought down by a conspiracy, accused of having usurpred the king's power, and subsequently decapitated.
Arcel sees the film as 'a great romantic love story, about forbidden love,' probably with international actors playing Struensee and the queen, since 'he spoke German, and in the beginning she only spoke English.' Meta Louise Foldager will produce the film which will otherwise have a Danish cast.