Why did Greta Garbo withdraw
Actress Greta GarboLonely and aloof
"I want to be alone!"
"Where have you been. I suppose I cancel the other contract."
"I just want to be alone!"
To be alone, she just wants to be alone as the prima ballerina in the film "Grand Hotel". In the role of the artist tired of the limelight, Greta Garbo says these words that should become the motto of her life.
Ten years later, one of the greatest stars cinema has ever produced will retire from filmmaking forever. Greta Garbo is only 36 years old and will live for almost half a century. She wanted to be human at last, to be alone at last, she said to close friends, and to flee her greatest, most inexorable rival: the Garbo, the myth, the unattainable, the divine.
Perhaps she was so suspicious of her own myth and the hype of the big Hollywood studios because the world from which Greta Lovisa Gustafsson came was a completely different one. She was born on September 18, 1905 in Stockholm and grew up in very poor conditions. She lost her father at an early age and had to leave school at the age of 14 to help support the family as a hairdresser. Throughout her life she found her lack of education to be a flaw. But an actress - that's what she always wanted to be.
During her hard-won training at the Academy of the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm, seventeen-year-old Greta was hired by her discoverer and mentor, the Swedish director Mauritz Stiller, to play the leading role in a feature film: "Gösta Berling's Saga" based on Selma Lagerlöf. Their naturally shining beauty caught the attention of American studio boss Louis B. Mayer. It is the beginning of her fabulous film career. And the emergence of her own style: with the minimalism of her game, Garbo is way ahead of the often exaggerated expressivity of silent films.
She played ladies of the world
She plays Femmes Fatales, women of the world, elegant lovers - but in the end she is unhappy with these characters. In "Anna Christie", her first sound film, you can tell how much she enjoys portraying a down-to-earth woman: a former prostitute who first goes to a pub and orders a whiskey with a heavy Swedish accent .
"Gimme a whiskey, ginger ale on the side, and don't be stingy, baby."
"Anna Christie" is the most successful film of 1930 and Greta Garbo's triumphant transition into the sound film era. But producers and audiences continue to prefer to see them in sophisticated, exotic, detached roles. She plays opera divas, unfortunate nobles and the spy Mata Hari. She is "Queen Christine" and the consumptive Marguerite Gaultier in "The Lady of the Camellias".
The Garbo film becomes a genre of its own in which the audience expects nothing more than the presence of its star. The director Clarence Brown, with whom she shot seven films, summed up this mysteriously exaggerated presence of the Garbo in a wonderful way:
"There was something in Garbo's eyes that you couldn't see unless you shot them close-up. You could see the thoughts. If she was to look at one person jealously and fall in love with another, she didn't need to change her expression. You could Seeing it in her eyes as she looked from one to the other. For me, Garbo starts where everyone else ends. "
It is part of Greta Garbo's tragedy that she almost exclusively starred in mediocre to bad films - which in turn reinforced her aura of loneliness and her mythical appearance on screen.
Only in her penultimate film, Ernst Lubitsch's "Ninotschka", was she able to show - with the help of scriptwriters such as Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett - that she mastered even the most difficult subject, comedy. In the role of the loyal communist Ninotschka Yakushova, she showed her comrades where to go as soon as she arrived at the train station.
"What a charming Idea from Moscow to surprise us with a lady comrade!"
"We would have surprised you with flowers."
"Don't make an issue of my womanhood!"
After "Ninotschka", Greta Garbo shot "The Woman with Two Faces" in 1942 - a failed comedy with George Cukor. It was her last film. She will never appear in public again until her death on April 15, 1990.
Late paparazzi photos show a woman in her seventies with large dark sunglasses. She walks energetically through New York. And while the camera lens is still looking for the Garbo myth, you can see very clearly that at least Greta Gustaffson has left him behind.
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