My time with Greta Garbo continues as I continue to explore the recommended titles from my viewing of Anna Karenina for the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book. This time, it’s 1933’s Queen Christina. High melodrama to be sure!
Garbo plays the titular Christina, a 17th century Swedish Monarch, who is put on the throne at a young age when her father, the King, is killed on the battlefield. As the film plays out, she will be forced to choose between her duty to her country, and the desires of her heart. What follows is a romantic, and enjoyable film, that sees Garbo, comfortable on the throne, but imbuing the loneliness that such a position would impose on someone.
Her council, and her people want her to marry, and all of them are pushing for Prince Charles (Reginald Owen), a national and war hero. As good a man as he is, Christina is unmoved emotionally by the man, and is left to wonder if she should do what her country wants, even though she would no doubt be unhappy.
She takes her respite in rides around the country, and pursuing peace, hoping to end war once and for all. She travels with Aage (C. Aubrey Smith), her closest confidante, manservant, and takes most of her counsel from him, though he doesn’t necessarily approve of her dalliance with the finance minister, Magnus (Ian Keith).
On one of her rides, wherein she wears pants, and is often mistaken for a young man, she meets the Spanish envoy, Antonio (John Gilbert), who takes her for a fellow traveller, until the night they are forced to share a room at an inn, and from there a bit of a romance springs up between the two, and for the first time, Christina can be a woman, and not a regent.
Antonio is in for a shock when he arrives at the royal court, and learns that the woman he has begun to have feelings for, is in fact the queen. His feelings, and mission are further complicated by the fact that he was sent by his own king to begin overtures for a wedding, though Magnus’ jealousy, and the people’s fervent passion for their nationality will not allow it. And when they learn that she is in fact in love with a Spaniard and may not marry Charles, the country is left in an uproar.
Christina is left to wonder what she can do, what she should do, and what she wants to do.
This one is a great little story, with some fun little moments, most occurring in the first half of the film, when Antonio and those around her mistake Christina for just a young man. There are nice moments further in as well, as she debates on what she should do, and the final choices she makes… And with those choices, will things turn out all for the best?
I’m still not completely swayed by Garbo, but I rather liked this film…