The Power Play (Maktspel) show takes a look at “power, violence, and love” and mixes costumes from hit HBO television show Game of Thrones and the 2008 film Elizabeth: The Golden Age with actual artifacts from the short-lived reign of Sweden's King Erik XIV.
Malin Grundberg, head of the Royal Armoury (Livrustkammaren), pointed out there are the similarities between fiction and fact. If you are King Joffrey of House Baratheon you aim to cull the Starks. If you're Elizabeth I of England you aim to nip the Stuarts in the bud. If you're Sweden's very own “cowardly and cruel” 16th century king, you kill three brothers of the Sture family in one go.
“Starks, Stuarts, Stures,” Grundberg summed up the rival clans.
“We chose Joffrey as the show's main character because there are a lot of very interesting likenesses between him and Erik XIV,” she told The Local. “Rumours and historic portrayal show that Erik XIV was cowardly and cruel, which is exactly what Joffrey turns out to be.”
There is a final likeness between the two kings, but for fear of plot spoiling, let's not get into it here.
At first, staff at the Royal Armoury had simply wanted to put together a show about the 16th century, but upon bemoaning the lack of well-preserved artifacts from that time, the Elizabeth fans brought up the recent films made about her. Why not include those costumes? But then, they remembered that the second installment, The Golden Age, came out in 2008, and wasn't as current as the museum would like. That's when GOT fans at the fika break table suggested Game of Thrones.
“It's a way for us to make it current, and to reach a new audience,” said Grundberg.
“It's exciting stuff how you use the image of the past for a modern fantasy series. Game of Thrones references different times and different places, and all of a sudden a zombie pops up in the middle of everything,” said Grundberg, who admitted she had been emailed a link but not yet looked at The Local's ten reasons Game of Thrones is set in Sweden picture gallery, which went viral last year.
In addition to the outfits of evil-runt monarch Joffrey, including his antler-inspired, ruby-studded crown, the show includes the shimmering gown worn by Daenerys Targaryen when she was married off to Kal Drogo. King of the North Robb Stark's cloak with its fur collar has also been shipped to Stockholm, as has his bastard half-brother Jon Snow's wildling coat.
From the films about Elizabeth, a contemporary of Erik XIV, the curators have included the Virgin Queen's bejewelled white gown. It has no actual historical precedent, Grundberg noted, but is similar to a dress worn in a portrait known as the Ditchley Portrait, when the English monarch stands on a map of the world.
“In the film she wears this gown as she spins around on a map of the world,” Grundberg said. “Elizabeth sat on the throne for such a long time and she really could cultivate the image of herself.”
While Cate Blanchett plays the young soon-to-be-queen with vulnerability in the first film, by the time she has reached The Golden Age the queen is forceful and astute, although expressing regret at the botched beheading of her half-sister. Two dresses worn by Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, one of which she wore in the execution scene of the film, are also in the show.
On Instagram, the show curators expressed delight when they unpacked the bridal gown worn by Elizabeth's lady-in-waiting Bess, played by Abbie Cornish, when she married Sir Walter Raleigh.
The Swedish artifacts spun into the show include Erik XIV's coronation cloak, the oldest in Swedish history to have been preserved. The king's daggers and two pistols are also included, and, so intricate and beladen with details that it would rival any outfit dreamed up in a Hollywood studio, the mad king's elaborate armour.
Among further items of historical clothing, there is the outfit worn by the king's rival Erik Sture when he was murdered on order of the blood-thirsty king.
The show opens on March 14th, 2014 and runs until January 4th, 2015.