Queen Christina

Queen Christina

Life is so gloriously improbable.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about Greta Garbo. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of her pictures, so I might still be a little fuzzy in regards to her and her acting, but I generally recall liking what she’s offered in the book so far. Queen Christina is an earlier picture of hers, directed by Rouben Mamoulian, and is a period piece featuring Garbo as the real life Queen Christina of Sweden, during the era of the Thirty Years War and afterward. It’s a love story, typical of period pieces of the time, and fictionalizes a great deal about the queen for Hollywood purposes, and I’m not really sure if I should let the film get away with either of those things, though it is perfectly understandable.

Garbo is recognizably serious in her role, and it is her on-screen persona of hardness that gives her her power whenever she appears, a persona that works especially well for the period piece this film is. The love story angle is kinda par for the times, but I can’t hold that against the film. The film still seems like it is feeling its way around the still-young technology of sound; the film uses close and medium shots with regularity to avoid using long shots and having the actors sound muffled or distant as a result. Mamoulian seems very enamored with close-up shots of his actors, especially Garbo, and the final shot of the film, a zoom-in to a close up of Garbo, is one of the best in the whole film.

Having gleaned what I could from this one, Garbo must have been a director’s dream actress; she gives a solid performance throughout, while still remaining extremely malleable to the director’s own style of filmmaking and vision. She is reactive to the director’s filmmaking, and it shows in the end product. This also means, however, that most of the reason I end up liking or disliking her falls squarely at the feet of the director of the picture, and not on Garbo. As for this one, it was a little too period-piecey to fall within my tastes, but fans of such a type of film will like this one a good deal, I would think. It’s also a bit expected and stereotypical; there’s an element of tragedy near the end that seems rather shoehorned in for the sake of fitting that piece into a pre-formed standard of film. Still, this is well done at least, so hopefully you won’t feel like you’ve wasted your time watching this one.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10

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One thought on “Queen Christina

  1. Interesting observations on the interactions between Garbo and the directors she had. I had not really thought of that before, but now that you mention it I can definitely see it. A Garbo movie is only as good as the director.
    I liked “Queen Christina”, but then I like period pieces. Garbo feels exactly right as the regal queen. And then of course she is Swedish herself so she can even do the right accent if needed.

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