Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Queen Christina (1933)

Garbo stars in this provocative and very likeable film loosely based on the life of Queen Christina of Sweden.  Christina was never cut out to be a proper woman, and lived most of her life as men did in her time; her clothes were rough, but her intellect was sharp, and she made no apologies for doing things her way.  Her father, King Gustavus, insisted that she be reared as a "prince", and his death brought her to the throne as the "Girl King". 

In time-tested Hollywood fashion, the fascinating life of the real Queen Christina is changed, creating a love interest who moves her enough to abdicate the throne.  In reality, she abdicates due to a desire to study her secret Catholic beliefs more fully.  Most of the film veers off course from this point, tailoring history to serve the bedroom-eyed Garbo and her lover, the affable and breezy John Gilbert.  She specifically requested Gilbert for this movie, and he does not disappoint.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, the fact that his career crashed and burned is one of the sorrows of cinema. 

The first half of Queen Christina is rife with lines and moments that could only have been realized in a pre-Code.   Garbo is the perfect actress for this gender-bending role, dashing off lines like this with believeable intensity and ardor:

Chancellor:  But, your Majesty, you cannot die an old maid!
Queen Christina:  I have no intention to, Chancellor.  I shall die a bachelor!

The second half of the film follows a more traditional course of hearts and flowers and romance.  But still, Garbo is strong, fiercely independent, to the last frame of the picture:

I give this one: 

1 comment:

Artman2112 said...

i love this film, possibly my fave of all her talkies. she was perfect, the production was gorgeous, gilbert and the rest of the supporting cast were excellent and that beautiful "silent" scene of Garbo and Gilbert together is unforgettable.

i am not exactly sure but i THINK this was the one she made after returning from her self imposed exile from hollywood. if only Clara Bow had done what Garbo did, paramount woulda caved to just about any demands she might have asked for just like MGM did. oh well, it is what it is, or was in this case :)

i agree with you, Gilbert's end in Hollywood (and life) was just a damn shame.