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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
The Ultimate Masterpiece! An impressive movie beyond times!
"I,m tired of being a symbol, Chancellor, I long to be a human being! This longing I cannot suppress!" (Greta Garbo as queen Christina)
On December, the 26th, 1933 Rouben Mamoulian's great production about the Swedish queen was released. Greta Garbo (1905-1990), a Swedish actress already famous for her roles in silent movies and some sound films, like Anna Christie (1930), was cast to play the main role by Rouben Mamoulian for the first time in her new contract. Perhaps, the producers with the director expected some success, but certainly nobody could think of the movie being watched and admired in the 21st century...
The story of Christina is changed; however, it does not make a serious distortion. The movie shows a lot of true facts from her life (her coronation in 1632 and her desire for peace) as well as some additional events (she did not abdicate for love). But, like with most other films, history had to be interpreted to the need of the audience of the 1930s.
The movie is mostly famous for dealing with Christina's desire for personal happiness and love affair between Christina and the Spanish ambassador Don Antonio De Pimentel (John Gilbert). The most memorable scene, for me personally, is their first meeting in an inn. The way Mr Mamoulian showed it is really extraordinary: nothing vulgar or open without taboo. Grapes which are a reference either to Ancient Greece and god Bachus or to Spain, Antonio's homeland. Christina is showed walking through the room and touching all objects in order to memorize them. Greta Garbo gives one of her finest performances in this memorable scene. REALLY SENSIBLE SCENE THAT VERY FEW PEOPLE WOULD BE ABLE TO SHOOT NOWADAYS! What is more, her lesbianism is hidden. There is only one moment when Christina kisses one of her servant girls in the mouth.
Another significant aspect of the movie is Christina's long for being a human, not a symbol. Her famous words that I contained at the beginning of my review reflect her personality. Everything she does is for happiness. She falls in love with Antonio and plans a happy life with him. However, Antonio dies in her arms and their love cannot be fulfilled. The final shot of Christina standing at the bow of the ship as it sets sail is another impressive, magnificent moment. Before shooting this scene, Mr Mamoulian said to Greta: "I want your face to be a blank sheet of paper. I want the writing to be done by every member of the audience..."
The cast are excellent. Greta Garbo performed in many movies, including ANNA KARENINA (1935), LOVE (1927), MATA HARI (1931), CAMILLE (1936), and in all of them, she was perfect; but this role is her ultimate masterpiece. Undoubtedly incredible! Even if you don't like anything about this movie, Greta's performance is something you will never forget. Consider how she played a man while meeting Antonio in an inn; or her speech where she calls for the end of Thirty Years War: "Spoils, glory, flags, and trumpets! What is behind these high sounding words? Death and destruction!"
John Gilbert also does a good job as Antonio but he, like everyone else, is in the shadow of Greta. I do not know if there were other such good actors or actresses in cinema's history. Perhaps, Romy Schneider... but, indeed, very few people could leave such an unfading trace in cinema.
Queen Christina is my beloved, favorite movie, a piece of high art at multiple levels. More than 70 years have passed since it was released and the movie is still a pleasure to see. It has been a must-have in my family from the time my Grandma was young in the 1930s. The movie really deserves to be released on DVD.
There are movies that you watch and quickly forget.
There are movies that you may like and see them more than once to remember for longer.
Queen Christina is a movie that, having seen once, you will never forget.
With no hesitation 10/10
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