Saturday, October 3, 2009
Queen Christina (1933)
Greta Garbo gives a wonderful performance in this well-made period piece.
Let it be known from the beginning, that this film requires a large suspension of disbelief, because Miss Garbo is mistaken for a man in this film. And she pretty much looks like she does in the picture to the left when the gender confusion occurs. But anyway, Greta Garbo plays Queen Christina, the Queen of Sweden who took over at a very young age after her father was killed in battle. We jump several years into the future and she's a weary ruler, tired of living her life for Sweden. She's being pressured to marry her cousin, who also happens to be a war hero, but she finds her true love when she is horseback riding in the country side and encounters a Spanish envoy (John Gilbert). He mistakes her for a male, but once the boobs have been revealed, all is well and they fall in love.
Of course, their love can never be revealed, because Sweden is having very strained relationships with Spain, after years of warring with each other, so (as they must do in any sort of royalty romance story) Christina must make a choice between her love and her duty as Queen.
Garbo is great here, she exudes strength and power, but she allows her character to be multi-faceted. When she's addressing her subjects or her advisors, she's very hard, very cold, but when she's with someone she's more comfortable with, we get to see her playful side, her light and happy side. She pulls it off expertly.
The rest of the acting is good, but this is really Greta Garbo's film, I mean "Garbo" is twice as big as the actual title of the film on the DVD, so it's her show to allow to her command the screen with her magnificent presence.
The sets and costumes are all well-made and it appears to be a very lavish production for its time, and it shows, making the palace intrigue and romance more believable and easy to watch.
I should also point out one shocking thing about this movie, it portrays Queen Christina as bisexual. Now, I may be wrong in this assumption, but I was shocked when a female "friend" entered Christina bedroom, only for Christina to greet her by holding her head and kissing her on the mouth before talking about going away together in the country for a few days. Not that lesbians freak me out or anything, but when things like that happen when you're in "Old Movie Watching Mode", you can't believe you eyes.
Of the 3 Garbo performances that I've seen (I've made entires on all of them), this is easily her best, it feels more natural and less "acty" than her other two (not that they were bad), and the character of Queen Christina seems to fit Garbo, a strong woman who also longs for love. It's really one to watch.