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    Utzon's fight for Sydney Opera House to be immortalised in feature film

    Lucy Marrett

    Behind one of the world’s most recognisable architectural structures, lies a controversial history of sabotage, disruption and resignations – all themes prevalent in popular feature films.

    The story of the Sydney Opera House is one of Australia’s great architecture controversies and is now the subject of a new feature film, courtesy of a team of international movie producers.

    More directly, Utzon, The Man Behind the Opera House will be based on the building’s designer, the late Jorn Utzon, who famously resigned from the project eight years into its construction and never saw the completed Sydney Opera House project in flesh.

    The film will be produced by a team of Swedish, Australian and Danish producers and scripted by Australian writer Petter Skavlan who told the ABC that the story has all the requirements for a successful movie:

    "I have been fascinated by the story of Jorn Utzon and the Sydney Opera House for many years and look forward to finally getting the project under way," he says.  

    "The Opera House is a symbol of Australia as a cultural nation as well as a symbol of one man's artistic vision. Against all odds Utzon managed to build his opera house, and the epic battle between the architect and the corrupt Askin government is perfect movie material."

    UTZON AND THE OPERA HOUSE

    Utzon was relatively unknown when at 38 years old he entered and won the international competition to design an opera house for Sydney’s Bennelong Point in 1957, but he is now one of the most famous architects to grace our shores.

    Construction on the Sydney Opera House began almost immediately but what followed was a series of road blocks that continued to disrupt and halt this process.  Delays in construction, costly spending and design issues that appeared to have no simple fixes were all contributing factors. After eight years of this, Australia saw a change in government who was less impressed and supportive of the way funds and resources were being used on the project.

    Utzon resigned from the project in 1966 as a protest to Liberal Minister for Works, Davis Hughes who was consistently blocking and questioning both the funds and resources that he needed. Utzon returned to his home in Denmark and vowed never to return to Australia. The resignation saw protests and marches take place through the city of Sydney demanding that Utzon be reinstated to his position.

    The project was eventually handed to Australian architect Peter Hall, a move that would later see him excluded from the rest of the architectural community. Finally by 1973, the now iconic Sydney Opera House was complete and was officially opened.

    Utzon was later awarded an Order of Australia in 1985 and contributed to redesigns as recently as 2008 despite never returning to see the completed structure and not initially gaining any recognition for his hand in the process. 

    Utzon, The Man Behind the Opera House is a running title only and a release date has not been revealed for the film. 

    RELATED

    • Read about the Le Corbusier and Jorn Utzon collaboration that is at the Sydney Opera House
    • Learn about the circumstances of Utzon’s death
    • See the only project that topped Sydney Opera House as the most over budget project of all time
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