Thursday, October 27, 2011


Rouben Mamoulian directed Greta Garbo as the title character "Queen Christina". It is Garbo's signature role.

The title character is real and the story is as close to accurate as Hollywood gets in portraying an historical figure. Christina, the Queen of Sweden, unmarried, the daughter of the Swedish king and hero "Gustavus Adolphus". The late king and his daughter the queen are champions of the Protestant cause against the Catholics on the continent. 

The complication in this film is the arrival of John Gilbert as the Spanish Ambassador and quite obviously a Catholic. Gilbert and Garbo were famous lovers on and off the screen and this would be his greatest role in the talking era. Contrary to popular belief his career flamed out due to alcoholism, not a high pitched voice as many claimed years later. He was every bit a capable leading man, but he never really took off after the silent era came to a crashing end. Today, we can judge him here in this role and others on their merits rather than the box office criteria that determined success.

The two principles fall in love, a love that is forbidden represented by wars of religion. But Queen Christina as is briefly but importantly hinted at is no stranger to forbidden love. The real Christina was bisexual and carried on relationships with women as is quickly noted at the beginning of the film when Garbo gives however platonically a kiss to one of her servants. 

A highly recommended film with a great ending as the abdicated Garbo looks off onto the horizon.

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