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Queen Christina of Sweden is a dominant European ruler in the 17th century, and has never thought of romance. However, she accidentally and secretly falls in love with an emissary from Spain, even though a marriage between the two seems out of the question. Written by
Greta Garbo initially requested that Laurence Olivier play the lead, Don Antonio, since she was impressed by his performance in Westward Passage (1932). In July 1933, the press announced that Olivier would take the part. However, when they did the rehearsals in August, Garbo and Olivier had no chemistry, and he was released, although MGM Studios honored his negotiated salary of $1,500 a week for four weeks minimum. Garbo requested that John Gilbert be cast in the role instead. See more »
In the 1600s, in a remote, snowbound, humble inn, Garbo is eating grapes and fruit that would not have been available even in the major, more southern cities like Paris. See more »
[Laying on her back at Antonio's feet, by the fireplace, Queen Christina holds a bunch of grapes above her head and slowly lowers them down and takes a bite]
They warmed and ripened in the Spanish sun. My haciendas overrun with them. In the season of the grape harvest, the air - smells purple. Purple grapes.
[Queen Christina kisses the bunch of grapes]
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I recently purchased the Greta Garbo DVD collection and the first film I watched was "Queen Christina". It's the first time I've seen it from beginning to end and it's a beautiful and haunting film. I'm surprised by how old it is. It was made in 1933! And yet the film, aside from the usual dated aspects seen in every movie made then, is remarkably ahead of its time, certainly in the way it views of a female nobility, androgyny and homosexuality. It surprising this movie was made, in the light of the nefarious Hays Code which came into existence just a couple of years before this film was made.
The cinematography is beautiful. The script, though simplistic in its portrayal of Queen Christina's life (the reason I gave this film one star short of a perfect 10), is full of interesting dialogue, which is endlessly quotable. But the one thing that makes the movie so great is Greta herself. Remove Greta from the movie and not much is left. She makes the movie and what an amazing and haunting performance she gives. Some might find her way of acting a bit much but personally, I think it's something to behold. There's no other actor in the world of cinema like Greta Garbo and this film proves it in spades. Her performance is pitch perfect: she's towering, impossibly beautiful and yet vulnerable and warm as well, which is amazing feat. There are several unforgettable and iconic scenes in "Queen Christina" but the biggest icon is Greta herself. Her overwhelming presence in the movie makes it a thoroughly haunting experience. It's amazing that the folks behind the camera knew what amazing person they were working with and "Queen Christina" is the perfect showcase for this legendary star.
As for the quality of the DVD transfer, it's a shame there isn't a better looking version than this one. The film was filled with scratches and sound problems. Like Lawrence of Arabia or Vertigo, "Queen Christina" needs to be restored to its former glory and re-released on the big screen, so a new generation can discover and appreciate this underrated movie.
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