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Thursday, April 7th, 2005

A Tribute to Greta Garbo

Tonight I went to the Academy for the Tribute to Greta Garbo on the 100th anniversary year of her birth.  Lena Olin (also Sweedish) hosted the event and they had 17 film clips from her career.  It was a lovely evening!  They also had special guests on stage to discuss her life away from the cameras.  Gore Vidal was among them.  They all had a few interesting stories, but they were all such minor ones.  That’s what is so fascinating about Garbo-NO ONE really ever knew her.  She built up walls around herself and never allowed anyone inside.  I think perhaps this quality is what made her such an amazing actress.  She has one of the most beautiful faces that has ever been put on a camera.  There is something hypnotic about her….intoxicating if you will.  Bette Davis once referred to Garbo’s work as, “witchcraft” and said that “on one else ever worked so effectively in front of the camera.” 

After viewing all of her clips, I thought “WOW-I can’t believe she didn’t make more films….then again maybe it’s best that she didn’t.”  There are some stars who belong suspended in time.  As much as I love Bette Davis, I wish she had retired decades before she died.  Something about the site of her holding on to a career long grown cold and making really bad movies just saddens me.  Her later work is hard to watch at best. 

Retiring early just kept Garbo from growing stale and making bad films.  It also added greatly to the sense of mystery.  Given that she retired right as WWII was happening, she left at the right time.  One critic said, “At that time people wanted to see Betty Grable’s legs….not Garbo’s art.”

It is so odd how public taste can shift so radically in a matter of a few short years.  Regardless, it is good to know that ALL of Garbo’s films (except one silent) still exist and have been preserved and will continue to live on.

Written by Karie (site owner) on 04/07 at 02:45 AM

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