Even though more than 60 years have passed since the last screen production with Greta Garbo was released (TWO FACED WOMAN by George Cukor), a lot of people are still amazed by the mysterious personality of this Swedish actress. There are some documentaries about this person but Steve Cole's appears to be a unique presentation of the star. It turns out to be interesting for all kinds of viewers, the ones who have not much read about Garbo, the ones who know something but want to know more as well as her real true fans.
The wide range of original archives is one of the most significant aspects of the film. The pictures and archive recordings make a wonderful journey to the 1920s and 1930s when Garbo was the top Hollywod star. By the use of these materials, a viewer gets a clear idea of chronological events from Greta Garbo's life, including her films in Europe (SAGA OF GOSTA BERLING, PETER THE TRAMP and THE JOYLESS STREET), 1925 arrival in Hollywood with the director Mauritz Stiller, her first roles in silent movies, like THE TORRENT (1926), FLESH AND THE DEVIL (1927), THE KISS (1929), etc through the sound films the top of which were Queen Christina (1933), CAMILLE (1936) and NINOTCHKA (1939), finally to her retirement from screen and generally a lonely and melancholic life till her 1990 death in the New York apartment.
Throughout the movie, a lot of people who either knew Garbo personally or write biographies about her tell very interesting stories. Actress Luise Rainer says for instance about her interesting meeting with Garbo in the 1930s and stresses a striking beauty all of the people noticed in the Swedish Sphynx. Director George Sidney refers to wonderful skills that Garbo had while playing. Biographers, like Karen Swenson and Hugo Vickers, tell amazing stories of Garbo's relationship with Salka Viertel and Mercedes de Acosta. Finally, Leatrice Gilbert Fountain, the daughter of John Gilbert, tells tear jerking stories from Garbo-Gilbert relationship. Indeed, John Gilbert was a person whom Garbo deeply loved and after listening to Leatrice, you will surely draw this conclusion. The stories from their private life are presented in relation to the films they made together from their first film, silent FLESH AND THE DEVIL (1927), to their last one, sound Queen Christina (1933), soon before Gilbert's sudden and early death in January 1936. This helps a viewer get a clear idea why Garbo insisted on Gilbert play Antonio instead of Laurence Olivier. She simply felt most comfortable on screen with him because she deeply loved him.
If you are interested in the personality and life of Greta Garbo, this documentary is a must see. 50 minutes supply you with so many interesting facts from her life and such a number of amazing stories that you will not find elsewhere. Although Garbo would be 100 this September, her phenomenon is still amazing. And let it be so...as she is a quintessential prototypical myth of glamorous classic actress in cinema. 9/10 for the documentary!
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