I’ve been devouring Copenhagen in bite-sized pieces over the past few years. Right now, the piece that I’m devouring comes in the form of a ham and cheese toasty in Kobenhaven Airport. As always seems to be the way with the Danish capital, I’m only here on my way to or from somewhere else. Maybe someday I’ll stick around long enough to see some of the country itself. (I’ll spare you the “Aarhus, in the middle of aarstreet” joke I’ve been working on for the last few days.
This time, I was actually here long enough to stay overnight, in the Generator hostel in the heart of the city. After navigating my way through a Friday night crowd that was notably better dressed and less drunk than their Dublin equivalents (they had to be – lots of them were cycling), I made it to a comfy bunk in a dorm room, if not quite so quickly to sleep, due to a combination of music reverberating through the building and snoring from the bunk below.
The day that followed, I decided to focus on Christiansborg Palace, or rather on the ruins underneath it. It’s honestly a bit of a shame that the ramshackle old castle (a model of which is pictured below) was flattened to make way for a Versailles-aping edifice during Denmark’s golden age of trade, in a particularly expensive form of keeping up with the Joneses. In a turn that the Monty Python troupe would have appreciate though, the new palace burned down not once but twice in the next century and a bit. The third one though, that’s stayed up (so far).
Next to the palace are other sights worthy of your time: the delightfully strange Exchange Building, one of whose gargoyle-like decorations can be seen above, and the Thorvaldsen’s Museum, a celebration of Denmark’s greatest Neoclassical sculptors (and of the few nearby buildings to survive the second burning of Christainsborg intact).
Sadly though, it’s another flying visit for me to this city. The airport, Thessaloniki and Greece are calling. This particular odyssey has a long way to go yet.
Terry Gilliam scarred my childhood. Not through a too-young exposure to his surreal and occasionally lewd animations on Monty Python’s Flying Circus (my sense of humour is mostly the result of my dad exposing me to recordings of The Goon Show, again, too young) but rather through his film Time Bandits, one of the greatest and darkest children’s movies ever made. I’m quiet sure that the ending, which I’m not going to spoil, resulted in a few disrupted nights for my parents.
Now he’s back with The Zero Theorem, a new movie following the familiar Gilliam theme of a discontented everyman trying to survive in an at-times sadistically unfriendly dystopia. It’s equal parts Kafka and comic book, and the result is a visual feast that barely conceals the symbolism Gilliam shovels into the mix.
(Spoilers for two recent movies below the cut…)