In New York, the alcoholic skipper of a coal barge Chris Christofferson receives a letter from his estranged twenty year old daughter Anna "Christie" Christofferson telling that she will leave Minnesota to stay with him. Chris left Anna fifteen years ago to the countryside to be raised by relatives in a farm in St. Paul and he has never visited his daughter. Anna Christie arrives and she is a wounded woman with a hidden dishonorable past since she had worked for two years in a brothel to survive. She moves to the barge to live with her father and one night, Chris rescues the sailor Matt and two other fainted sailors from the sea. Soon Anna and Matt fall in love with each other and Anna has the best days of her life. But when Matt proposes to marry her, she is reluctant and also haunted by her past. Matt insists and Anna opens her heart to Matt and to her father disclosing the darks secrets of her past.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This is an amazingly well-filmed early talkie adaptation of the Eugene O'Neill play. Its major drawback is a static camera, and as a result it comes off much of the time as the filmed play it is, which is a pity, for it's a good piece of primitive moviemaking, made at a time when sound was posing all kinds of technical problems, and as a result most films were experimental whether or not this was their maker's intention. Garbo is as mysterious and charismatic as she was in her silent films, and her entrance is still classic. Her voice is strangely deep, almost boyish, which only enhances her already seductively eccentric persona. As her boyfriend, Charles Bickford is appropriately virile,--he was apparently born craggy--and a perfect counterpart to the divine Garbo. His Irish brogue is not bad at all, and he seems always a natural man of the sea, very O'Neill-like in his independent, brooding nature. As Garbo's (very) confused father, George Marion seems truly from another time. He has the sort of face and voice,--open, unmannered, totally without guile--that has vanished from the earth. Marie Dressler is also in the O'Neill swing of things. Her blank expression and intensity around the eyes speaks volumes, as she plays her boozy character as a woman at times bordering on psychosis. Poetic license, perhaps, as this is not in the script, but we can forgive Miss Dressler's excesses; she is too good at it not to. The story ends with a movement to the next thing, as distinct from resolution, which isn't the author's cup of tea; and those who like their films neatly worked out in the end will be disappointed by the absence of any real surprise. In Anna Christie we are in O'Neill country, a place of sea, storms and fog, a feeling of all-pervading and damnable uncertainty, which we would now call ambivilance, or anxiety neurosis. Rather than analyze this mood the author simply and wisely presents it, as weather, land, ocean and people intertwine and address one another in a unique language we feel priveleged to have heard.
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