Greta Garbo

 

Con Garbo. Un viaggio alla ricerca della Divina
di Maria Grazia Bevilacqua

La leggenda.

Greta Garbo è stata la Divina e la meno diva di tutte. Non fu mai schiava dello star system hollywoodiano. Destava la pubblicità e la stampa, non concedeva autografi o interviste: le ultime sono del 1928 alla scrittrice Rilla Page Palmborg e del 1929 a Mordaunt Hall del New York Times. Fuggiva dai fotografi e dai fans di cui non apriva mai le lettere che le arrivavano a migliaia. Non sopportava le prove dei costumi di scena e non le importava niente degli abiti e della moda. Appena fuori dal set, si infilava i pantaloni, le giacche, camicia e cravatta, scarpe dal tacco basso, creando così lei una moda, la moda-Garbo che influenzò molte donne della sua epoca.

Era nata a Stoccolma nel 1905 e ha interpretato 28 film dal 1924 al 1941, anno in cui si ritirò per sempre dalla scene, a 36 anni, quando era al culmine della carriera ed ancora bellissima.

Greta Garbo muore a 84 anni, il 15 aprile 1990, è domenica, il giorno di Pasqua. Al New York Medical Center, a Manhattan, il portavoce dell’ospedale non fornisce altri particolari. Così aveva raccomandato Greta, riservata anche nella morte. La notizia esplode nel mondo: programmi radio e televisivi vengono interrotti per annunciarla. Il giorno dopo le pagine dei quotidiani italiani e stranieri sono invasi dai servizi sulla Divina. Fellini la definisce “Fata severa” e “Fondatrice di un ordine religioso che si chiama Cinema”.

Una bambina timida.

Greta Lovisa Gustafsson era nata il 18 settembre 1905 a Stoccolma.

Era una bambina timida, le piaceva star sola e fantasticare “è molto più importante che giocare” diceva. “Un momento ero felice e l’attimo dopo molto depressa – confiderà in seguito – non ricordo di essere stata davvero bambina come molti miei altri coetanei. Ma il gioco preferito era fare teatro: recitare, organizzare spettacoli nella cucina di casa, truccarsi, mettersi addosso abiti vecchi o stracci e immaginare drammi e commedie”.

A quattordici anni deve abbandonare la scuola perché il padre ha una grave malattia: alla fine di maggio del 1920, poco prima della morte, Greta lo accompagna in ospedale per un ricovero; devono attendere a lungo, in fila, in piedi; quando arrivano allo sportello un impiegato rivolge loro mille domande, vuole accertarsi che siano in grado di pagare. Anni dopo ad Hollywood Greta racconterà quell’esperienza al commediografo S.N. Bherman “Da quel momento decisi che dovevo guadagnare tanti soldi da non dover mai più essere sottoposta a una umiliazione simile”

Dopo la morte del padre va a lavorare in un negozio di barbiere e dopo qualche mese come commessa ai Grandi magazzini PUB di Stoccolma. Nell’estate del ’22 incontrò il regista E. Petschler che era entrato nel reparto di modisteria per acquistare cappelli per il suo prossimo film. Greta gli chiese una parte e lui acconsentì; domandò alla direzione dei PUB un anticipo di ferie che le fu negato; decise di licenziarsi. Motivo: entrare nel cinema:

Interpreta per Bherman Peter il vagabondo, una pellicola scadente in cui fa la parte di una “bellezza al bagno”.

Poi supera una difficilissima selezione per studiare gratis tre anni alll’Accademia Regia di Stoccolma. Dopo il primo semestre è scelta per un provino con Mauritz Stiller il più geniale e famoso regista svedese del momento. (Finlandese riparato in Svezia ventenne per renitenza alla leva, aveva diretto 40 film ed era noto in tutta Europa come innovatore della tecnica cinematografica – camera mobile, PP, immagini sovrapposte, iniziatore della commedia sofisticata – colto, egoista, ambizioso, omosessuale, narcisista, adorava la notorietà ed era un raffinato esteta). Sarà il maestro e il mentore, padre-manager-pigmalione. Greta ha 18anni, Stiller 40. Su suo suggerimento fa richiesta al Ministero degli Interni di cambiare il proprio cognome. Il 4 dicembre 1923 nasce Greta Garbo.

Marzo 1924, prima assoluta a Stoccolma di La Saga di Gosta Berlin dal romanzo di Selma Lagendorf, durata 4 ore; il pubblico lo apprezza, la critica lo demolisce; Stiller decide di farne una prima a Berlino dove raccoglie grande successo di critica e pubblico. A Berlino Greta è apprezzata da Pabst che si accinge a girare La via senza gioia e le offre una parte: il film diventerà uno dei classici da antologia del cinema e sarà il ponte per Greta verso Hollywood.

La stella che non voleva essere vamp.

Quando vedrete La Tentatrice perdonatemi. Tutto è sgradevole in questo film e per la seconda volta la mia parte è quella di una vamp, una donna seducente, distruttiva e senza scrupoli, un ruolo che detesto

Scrive Greta agli amici in Svezia, in occasione del suo secondo film hollywoodiano del 1926.

Donna fatale dal passato torbido, destinata a catturare gli uomini e a distruggerli, questo è il clichè che la MGM aveva trovato per lei sin dai primi film. Greta contrattava, chiedeva di interpretare la parte di eroine positive, come Giovanna d’Arco, per esempio, ma il tycoon L. Mayer rispondeva sarcasticamente che le brave ragazze non interessano il pubblico. Dal 1927 al 1937 ha interpretato 20 film ed è sempre una seduttrice destinata a una fine tragica: spia russa, doppiogiochista e assassina in The Mysterious Lady (La donna misteriosa), aristocratica, viziata ammaliatrice che finisce per uccidersi in A Woman of Affairs (Destino), donna irresistible e moglie infedele in Wild Orchids (Orchidea selvaggia), The Kiss (Il Bacio), The Peinted Veil (Il velo dipinto). Prostituta in Anne Cristie ed etèra di lusso in Susan Lenox, her Fall and Rise (Cortigiana) e Camille (Margherita Gauthier). Finisce suicida in Anna Karenina, consumata dalla tisi in Margherita Gauthier, fucilata come pericolosa spia e traditrice in Mata Hari.

Sul set.

Se mi sento osservata – dice nell’intervista concess a a Rilla Page Palborg – mi sembra di essere una sciocca che fa le smorfie davanti all’obiettivo e viene distrutta ogni illusione, si rompe l’incantesimo della scena che sto vivendo” Aveva imparato con Stiller a tenere il set protetto, a difenderlo dal voyerismo e dall’invadenza: quando lei recitava Stiller allontanava tutti, tranne l’operatore e gli attori che dovevano partecipare alla scena e faceva recintare il set con una tenda scura. Queste misure di protezione saranno poi sempre pretese dalla Garbo una volta a Hollywood.

Solo le persone indispensabili alla scena erano ammesse nell’aria del set. I registi in genere preferivano lavorare davanti alla macchina da presa e non dietro, ma la Garbo esige che se ne stiano ben nascosti al di là della cinepresa. Non ammette nessuno sul set, nemmeno i grandi nomi o i grandi capi della produzione. Appena si accorge che qualche estraneo la guarda smette di recitare e si rifugia nel camerino. Un giorno Mayer porta sul set di Gran Hotel un importante giornalista della catena Hearst e si nascondono nella cabina del suono: la Garbo li vede, smette di lavorare ed abbandona il set; a Mayer che cerca di imbonirla replica ” Io non andrei a spiare quel giornalista, dietro le sue spalle, mentre sta scrivendo un articolo”

E così cresce la leggenda della Garbo enigmatica, sfinge, misteriosa sconosciuta, remota e imperscrutabile.

Jimmy, un whisky con ginger ale a parte. E non fare l’avaro, baby

Il 6 ottobre 1927 al Winter Garden Theatre a New York il cinema che era stato muto per tanto tempo si mette a parlare. Il film che si proietta quella sera è Il cantante di jazz. C’è subito chi profetizza che il sonoro non durerà. Dopo l’avvento del sonoro la Garbo interpreta ancora sette film muti, perché il direttore della Metro non ama il sonoro. Greta Garbo intanto continua a studiare l’inglese, a migliorare il suo accento, ad arricchire il suo vocabolario. Anna Cristie del ’29 sarà il suo primo film sonoro, da un dramma di O’Neill abbastanza pesante e verboso; si racconta che quando Greta/Anna entra nello squallido bar del porto, sorregge una sgangherata valigia, è stanca, si siede a un tavolino e pronuncia la storica frase …Jimmy, un whisky con ginger ale a parte. E non fare l’avaro, baby… tutti sul set trattengono il respiro, compresi elettricisti e macchinisti

Racconta l’attrice 90nne Lina Lattanzi che è stata “la voce italiana” della Garbo “Mentre la doppiavo, con davanti a me, sul leggio, le battute che dovevo recitare, scrutavo quel viso meraviglioso ed era come se i sentimenti, le emozioni affiorassero alla superficie, erano espressioni in minime sfumature, come sottili vibrazioni sottopelle: in un incresparsi della fronte , in una fuggevole piega all’angolo della bocca. Quando una scena passa e ripassa sullo schermo per 10, 20 volte, come accade nel doppiaggio, qualche errore o incertezza nella recitazione, nell’espressione del viso, si scoprono sempre. Con la Garbo questo non accadeva mai…” … Greta Garbo aveva una voce profonda, grave con qualcosa di lontano, di nostalgico, ed era questa intonazione che mi sforzavo di imitare. Era una voce morbida e velata, evocatrice. Una voce duttile, che lei sapeva modulare in molte tonalità, a cui sapeva dare accenti duri e aspri nelle scene in cui si incolleriva, così come diventava freddo e implacabile il suo sguardo. Quando rideva, ma era raro, la voce diventava di gola, come sfocata e si perdeva. Era impossibile imitare quella risata…”

I Film di Greta Garbo

Gosta Berlin Saga.(La saga di Gosta Berlin) 1924, muto. Regia di Mauritz Stiller.
Die Freudlose gasse (La via senza gioia) 1925, muto. Regia di G. Wilhelm Pabst.
The Torrent (Il torrente) 1926, muto. Regia di Monta Bell.
The Temptress (La tentatrice) 1920, muto. Regia di Fred Niblo.
Flesh and the Devil (La carne e il diavolo) 1927, muto. Regia di Clarence Brown.
Love (Anna Karenina) 1927, muto. Regia di Edmund Goulding.
The Divine Woman (La Divina) 1928, muto. Regia di Victor Siostrom (perduto).
The Mysterious Lady (La donna misteriosa) 1928, muto. Regia di Fred Niblo.
A Woman of Affairs (Destino) 1929, muto. Regia di Clarence Brown.
Wild Orchids (Orchidea selvaggia) 1929, muto. Regia di Sidney Franklin.
The Single Standard (Donna che ama) 1929, muto. Regia di Jonh S. Robertson.
The Kiss (Il bacio) 1929, muto. Regia di Jacques Feyder.
Anna Christie 1930, parlato. Regia di Clarence Brown; Versione in tedesco, Regia di J. Feyder.
Romance (Romanzo) 1930, parlato. Regia di Clarence Brown.
Inspiration (La modella) 1931, parlato. Regia di Clarence Brown.
Susan Lenox, her Fall and Rise (Cortigiana) 1931, parlato. Regia di Robert Z. Leonard.
Mata Hari 1932, parlato. Regia di George Fitzmaurice.
Grand Hotel 1932, parlato. Regia di Edmund Goulding.
As You Desire Me (Come tu mi vuoi) 1932, parlato. Regia di George Fitzmaurice.
Queen Cristina (La Regina Cristina) 1933, parlato. Regia di Rouben Mamoulian.
The Painted Veil (il velo dipinto) 1934, parlato. Regia di Richard Boleslawski.
Anna Karenina 1935, parlato. Regia di Clarence Brown.
Camille (Margherita Gauthier) 1937, parlato. Regia di George Cukor.
Conquest (Maria Waleska) 1937, parlato. Regia di Clarence Brown.
Ninotchka 1939, parlato. Regia di Ernest Lubitsch.
Two Faced Woman (Non tradirmi con me) 1941, parlato. Regia di George Cukor.

 

English Version English Version

Greta Garbo

A journey in search of the Divine woman.

by Maria Grazia Bevilacqua

The legend

Despite being known as the Divine woman, Greta Garbo didn’t actually behave as a diva. Indifferent to public opinion, she never submitted to Hollywood system, for she hated publicity and press, from which she carefully guarded her personal life, and would never give autographs nor interviews (the latest ones to the writer Rilla Page Plamborg and to Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times date back to the 1928 and the 1929 respectively). She would avoid photographers and would never read the loads of mail from her fans. She couldn’t stand the dress rehearsals nor did she mind about clothes and fashion. Hardly out of the sets, she would wear jacket and trousers, shirt-and-tie, confortable flat shoes, so setting up a fashion of her own, Garbo-fashion, which influenced many women of the time.

She starred in 28 films from 1924 -1941, when, at the age of 36 and still in the splendour of both her beauty and career, she retired from the sets once and for all.

Greta Garbo dies at 84, the 15th October 1990. It’s Easter Sunday. The New York Medical Center’s spokesman doesn’t give any particulars of her death; her last whishes were to be discreet until last. The news of her death breaks out all over the world: radio and TV interrupt their broadcasts to announce the important news, which was reported in all the papers the following day. Federico Fellini calls her “the severe Fairy” and “the founder of a religious order called Cinema”.

A shy girl

Greta Lovisa Gustafsson was born in Stockholm, Sweden, on September 18, 1905. A little girl, she was shy and solitary and she liked daydreaming: “it’s more important than playing”, she would say. “I was very moody: one moment I was happy, the next I was very depressed – she would later confide – I don’t remember having a childhood. I was a stage-struck girl: playing, arranging performances in the kitchen at home, inventing dramas and comedies, using make-up and wearing old clothes … I did love that”.

At fourteen, she has to give up school due to her father’s serious illness: in May 1920 she takes him to hospital; there, after a long queue, a clerck askes them lots of questions, just to make sure they would be able to afford the bill when checking out. Years later, she would tell of this experience to comediographer S.N. Bherman. “In that very moment I decided I would earn much money so as not to suffer this type of umiliation again”.

After her father died, she worked as a lather girl in a barbershop, and, after a few months, as a salesgirl at PUB’s department store in Stokholm, where, in the Summer 1922, she met the film director E. Petschler, who was there to buy some hats for his new film. Greta asked him to cast her for a part in his film. He agreed. When asking the management for some time off they refused, so she resigned. Reason: to join the cinema.

In her first motion picture, Luffar-Petter (1922), by Bherman, she played a bathing beauty role. It was not a great film, but soon after that, she passed a hard audition to win a three-year scholarship to the prestigious Royal Dramatic Theatre Academy in Stockholm. Attending the training school, she met Mauritz Stiller, the foremost director of Sweden’s golden age of film (Finnish, escaped to Sweeden at the age of 20 for dodging the draft) who had already directed 40 films and was well known throuhout Europe as an innovator of the cinema technics. Educated, selfish, ambitious, omosexual, narcissist, he adored to be famous and was a refined aesthete. Stiller would be Garbo’s master, her mentor, her father-manager-Pygmalion. Greta is 18, Stiller is 40. On his advice, she applies to the Home Office and changes her name. From then on, she was professionally known as Greta Garbo.

March 1924, Stockholm: the première of The Atonement of Gosta Berling, from Selma Lagendorf’s novel, starring Greta Garbo, lasted four hours. It was a huge box office success, but unexpectedly the critics disliked it. Soon after that, Stiller decided to screen it in Berlin, where the film was considered a silent screen masterpiece by both critics and audience and hailed throughout Europe.

In Berlin Greta met G.W. Pabst who cast her in the leading role of Joyless Street: This film, which received international acclaim and is still considered by far the definitive masterpiece of realistic cinema, was the bridge to Hollywood for her.

The star who didn’t want to be a vamp.

“When you see The Temptress, please try to forgive me. Everything is unpleasant in that film and, once again, I’ve played the role of a vamp, of a seductive, destructive, unscrupulous woman, which is the exact role I hate”, she wrote to her friends in Sweden, after she was cast in her second Hollywood film, in 1926.

She played a famme fatale with a gloomy past and man-eater: that was the cliché the Metro Goldwin Mayer had decided for her, since her first movies. Greta would reluctantly accept, she would ask to be cast in roles of positive heroines like Joan of Arc, for instance, but in L.Mayer’s cynical opinion the audience were not interested in good girls’ stories. From 1927 to 1937 she starred in 20 films, playing the role of a seducer destined for a tragic end, or, from time to time, a Russian spy, a double-dealer, a murderer, like in The Mysterious Lady, an aristocrat and spoilt bewitcher in A Woman of Affairs, an irresistible but unfaithful wife in Wild Orchids, The Kiss, The Peinted Veil. A prostitute in Anna Cristie and a luxury hetaera in Susan Lennox, Fall and Rise and Camille. She commits suicide in Anna Karenina, dies of consumption in Margherita Gauthier, is sentenced to be shot like a dangerous spy and a betrayer in Mata Hari.

On the set.

“When I realize somebody is watching me – she says in the interview with Rilla Page Palborg – then I feel as silly as a person who pulls faces before the camera. Then the spell is broken and I can no longer act”. Working with Stiller, she had learnt how to keep busybodies and voyeurs out of the set. When she was acting, Stiller would get everybody out of the way, save the cameramen and the actors needed in the same shot, and he would surround the set with a dark curtain, in order to grant privacy and concentration. Once in Hollywood, Garbo would always impose these privacy measures: only the absolutely necessary people were allowed on the set (she even wanted the director to stay hidden beyond the camera) and as soon as she realized that somebody from outside the set was there, she would rush away and take shelter in her dressing room. She compelled the same respect from others as she gave them. And she would never, herself, spy on someone while working!

So the legend of Garbo’s aloof mysteriousness and enigmatical inscrutability heightened.

Jimmy, a whisky with ginger ale on the side, please. And don’t be shy, baby.

On 6th October 1927 at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York, cinema which had always been silent begins to talk. The film screened that evening marking the transition to sound in film was The Jazz Singer. Some predicted that talkie film would be a failure.

After the coming of the talkie screen, Garbo still starred in seven silent films, for the director of the Metro dislikes tolkies. Greta meanwhile keeps on learning English, improving her accent and vocabulary. Ann Christie, her first talkie feature (in which her rich, low voice was first heard) screened in 1929, is based on a O’Neill’s dull and prolix play; it is said that when Greta/Ann stepps into a shabby bar in the port, carrying havily her shabby suitcase, sits at a table and quotes the famous sentence…Jimmy, a whisky with ginger ale on the side, please. And don’t be shy, baby…,everyone on the set hold their breath, technicians included.

Ninety-year-old actress Lia Tanzi, who was Garbo’s “Italian voice” tells: While dubbing her – the cues I had to repeat were on the bookstand in front of me – I used to watch her wonderful face; very slowly all the feelings, the emotions would come up from deep inside; hers were tiny shaded expressions, as fine as under-skin vibrations, like a wrinkle of her forehead, an imperceptible line on the side of her mouth. When a shot is screened ten, twenty times, as it often happens when dubbing, one can easily catch falts or some incertainty in the actors’ performances, in the expression of their faces. That would never happen to Garbo…Her voice was so deep, soft yet solemn, its tone had something mysterious, nostalgic, and that was the tone I tried hard to imitate. She could modulate her flexible voice in a wide range of tones, from the very hard and rough ones, when she had to sound angry and in accordance with her piercing, merciless glance, to a guttural-hazy tone when she laughed…though she very seldom used to. Her laugh was impossible to imitate, definitely…”

Greta Garbo’s filmography

Gosta Berlin Saga, 1924. Silent. By Mauritz Stiller.

Die Freudlose Gasse, 1925. Silent. By G.Wilhelm Pabst.

The Torrent, 1926. Silent. By Monta Bell.

The Temptress, 1920. Silent. By Fred Niblo.

Flesh and the Devil, 1927. Silent. By Clarence Brown.

Love (Anna Karenina), 1927. Silent. By Edmund Goulding.

The Divine Woman, 1928. Silent. By Victor Siostrom (lost).

The Mysterious Lady, 1928. Silent. By Fred Niblo.

A Woman of Affairs, 1929. Silent. By Clarence Brown.

Wild Orchids, 1929. Silent. By Sidney Franklin.

The Single Standard, 1929. Silent. By John S. Robertson.

The Kiss, 1929. Silent. By Jacques Feyder.

Anna Christie, 1930. Talkie. By Clarence Brown. (German version by J. Feyder).

Romance, 1930. Talkie. By Clarence Brown.

Inspiration, 1931. Talkie. By Clarence Brown.

Susan Lennox – Her Fall and Rise, 1931. Talkie. By Robert Z. Leonard.

Mata Hari, 1932. Talkie. By George Fitzmaurice.

Grand Hotel, 1932. Talkie. By Edmund Goulding.

As You Desire Me, 1932. Talkie. By George Fitzmaurice.

Queen Christina, 1933. Talkie. By Rouben Mamoulian.

The Painted Veil, 1934. Talkie. By Richard Boleslawski.

Anna Karenina, 1935. Talkie. By Clarence Brown.

Camille, 1937. Talkie. By George Cukor.

Conquest, 1937. Talkie. By Clarence Brown.

Ninotchka, 1939. Talkie. By Ernest Lubitsch.

Two-Faced Woman, 1941. Talkie. By George Cukor.

Queen Christina.

Greta Garbo and Salka Viertel.

In 1933 Greta leaves Hollywood for Sweden, where her mother and brother still live. She’s taking queen Christina’s biography, which her Polish friend Salka Viertel gave her.

Salka is a cultured and skillful screenwriter, who, from Queen Christina onwards, would sign several scripts to films cast by Greta, like The Painted Veil, Anna Karenina, Conquest, Two-Faced Woman.

Reading Christina’s biography, Greta feels very close to the eccentric, anticonformist and bisexual 17th-century Swedish queen, with whom she shares a distaste for marriage and smart clothes. It is said that at a formal party Christina introduced her court lady in waiting Ebba Sparte as her “bedcompanion” to the English ambassador.

In Sweden Greta collects papers and news about Christina, goes to Upsala’s castle for a visit and becomes enthusiastic over the idea of making a feature about the queen. So she writes to MGM, explaining she will sign a new contract at one condition: she will star the new film as Queen Christina. She also expects a pay rise ($ 250,000 per film!) and wants to work on a maximum of two films per year…Although this makes Mayer furious with rage, on the other hand, he knows that Garbo is a great attraction and her performance is always a critical success and does good business at the box office, both in the United States and overseas. So he reluctantly accepts, Greta returns to Hollywood and begins work on Queen Christina.

The film was directed by Rouben Mamoulian: aged thirtyfive, Caucasian but educated in Moscow and Paris, he had previously worked as a theatrical director. Garbo and Mamoulian, who were both strong-willed and respectful, would get along with each other.

Salka Viertel wrote the script in which she quoted some Greta’s feelings picked from her everyday’s life: ” I’m tired of being a symbol, an abstraction. A human being is changeable, with feelings, desires, emotions…”; when pressed by her chancellor to marry “But your majesty, you cannot die an old maid”, “I have no intention to. I shall die a bachelor”, like Greta herself would often say.

Queen Christina is enthusistically hailed by critics, though not a box office success. Garbo herself despises the film and tells her friends in Sweden “I did my best to perform a historically accurate portrait of the Swedish queen, but one always must come to a horrible compromise in Hollywood. There’s no scope for art, everything is just a matter of box office, as they call it”.

Salka Viertel and her husband Berthold, among many other artists, moved to Hollywood between the twenties and the early thirties. Salka had studied acting first in Wien then in Berlin, where she worked in Max Reinhardt’s company. Her house in Hollywood was among the most lively meeting places for European intellectuals, such as Stravinsky, Shoenberh, M. Reinhardt, Eisenstein, Thomas Mann, Upton Sinclair, E. Lubitsch and so forth. Salka is witty, sharp, cultured; Greta is fascinated by her and Salka becomes her confidante and advisor: their relationship will last decades, though they happened to part for several long spells.

On 8th June 1993, 66 letters which Garbo had written to Salka Viertel between 1932 and 1973, were auctioned at Sotheby’s in London. “I’m thinking about the film’s story and I’d like to ask you something you probably won’t like… You know how I love trousers, so I wonder whether I’m stll in time for asking you to add a short shot to the script, where Maria (she refers to Maria Waleska, Napoleon’s Polish lover in the film “Conquest”), disguised as a soldier, is wearing them, when she first meets with Napoleon in his tent…?”. In a letter she sent from Sweden and in which she tells about the film Queen Christina, she says she wishes the feature was shot on locations in Europe, but “…Europe is dead”, she would write in 1933, when the Nazism was growing up and getting ominous, “…so I’d better go back to Hollywood where we’ll make the film: but you perfectly know how I hate that place”.

In her book “The kindness of Stangers”, Salka Viertel writes about Greta: “She’s sharp, simple, genuine and has a great sense of humor. She’s very funny when she takes herself off while caricaturing her seductive performances. What struck me since I first met her was her politeness, her kindness and sensitivity”.

Queen Christina

Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Cast: Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Ian Keith, Lewis Stone, C. Aubrey Smith,

Elizabeth Young, Reginald Owen
Screenwriter: Salka Viertel
Adapted from Salka Viertel and Margaret F. Levine’s novel
MGM Home Entertainment, 1933.

Plot Summary

Swedish queen Christina is pressured by her chancellor Oxenstierna into a politically correct marriage with her cousin Charles, a brave soldier, but she says she “wants to die a bachelor”. She rides away from the palace, disguised as a soldier and incognito meets Spanish ambassador Don Antonio. They are snowbound at an inn where they share the only room left…It’s love at first sight. Christina will reveal herself only when Antonio arrives at court. She is determined to renounce the throne to follow him to Spain, but he dies in a duel, killed by her former lover. Christina goes off alone in the end…

Christina of Sweden. Still a little girl, ascends the thorone, but starts to rule in 1644, when she comes of age. In 1653, she renounces the throne due to her incompatibility with the power. In 1681, she moves to Rome and writes Her life, written by herself and dedicated to God. Although an ex-queen, she never gave up regarding herself as a sovereign, either in thought and in life.

– 1654, then abdicated her throne to Charles Gustavas and converted to Catholicism, which was illegal in Sweden. After abdicating, she lived in Rome, and was an active proponent of religious freedom and a patroness of the arts.

Unconcerned with appearances, and daring to live a life of almost total freedom, Christina was one of the most highly independent, unconventional, and outrageously colorful women in history. The Greta Garbo film, Queen Christina, is a highly fictionalized portrait of her last years as queen.

Queen Christina Wasa of Sweden ruled from 1640 – 1654, then abdicated her throne to Charles Gustavas and converted to Catholicism, which was illegal in Sweden. After abdicating, she lived in Rome, and was an active proponent of religious freedom and a patroness of the arts.

Unconcerned with appearances, and daring to live a life of almost total freedom, Christina was one of the most highly independent, unconventional, and outrageously colorful women in history. The Greta Garbo film, Queen Christina, is a highly fictionalized portrait of her last years as queen.

Categorie: biofilmografie

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