“This is an enormous undertaking,” says filmmaker Anders Wahlgren, who, as a 13-year-old schoolboy watched from Beckholmen how Vasa was salvaged. Wahlgren has been involved with a film about Vasa for the past three and a half years. “Vasa—människorna, skeppet, tiden” (Vasa—the people, the ship, the times) is the name of the project.
Wahlgren has filmed 17th century locations at the Skansen Museum, as well as at the von der Lindeska House in Stockholm’s Old Town. He has been onboard Vasa, of course, and also traveled to Holland to find the right atmosphere. With the latest in technology, animators are now doing their utmost to recreate Stockholm the way it looked at the time of Vasa. The actors are acting against a so-called green screens, to later be cut into their right environment—something Wahlgren calls “advanced cheating.”
“It’s a very technical film,” he continues. “A low-budget kind of ‘Avatar.’” The story follows Dutchman Henrik Hybertsson, who came to Stockholm to build the ship and later marry a Swede, Margareta. Hybertsson fell ill and died before the ship was finished. His wife took over; in those days, women sometimes inherited their husbands’ work.
Vasa was built in record time—two years—but the work was fraught with strikes (the Dutch wood workers weren’t happy), and there was not enough money as the Stockholm Stock Exchange crashed. According to Wahlgren, it was not uncommon for warships to sink in those days, it happened in both England and the Netherlands. The Danish captain Söfring Hansson discovered that Vasa was wrongly constructed and easily swayed. Nobody knows if King Gustav II Adolf was ever informed, though.
“Vasa should have never been allowed to sail,” says Wahlgren. “Hybertsson could have had it rebuilt, but he never got the chance.”