review for Queen Christina on AllMovie

Queen Christina (1933)
by Lucia Bozzola review

Displaying the full range of Greta Garbo's mystique, Queen Christina (1933) is usually considered one of Garbo's best works, as well as her most erotically complex. Working from the true story of the 17th century Swedish queen who abdicated her throne for love, MGM surrounded Garbo with the kind of beautifully detailed period sets and costumes for which it was known in the 1930s, including Christina's preferred male drag. Gracefully directed by Rouben Mamoulian, Garbo silently yet powerfully communicates Christina's ill-fated love for John Gilbert's Spanish envoy as she moves around their room at a snowbound inn, "memorizing" every object. Despite Garbo's reunion with three-time silent movie romance partner Gilbert, Queen Christina is more renowned for its (relatively) clear treatment of Christina's bisexuality, as she declares that she'll "die a bachelor," kisses her favorite countess on the lips, and disguises herself as a man. The final shot of Christina's staring out to sea is a signature Garbo moment of secret emotions, hidden passions, and mysterious allure. (Mamoulian reportedly told her to think of nothing.) Even so, Queen Christina did not perform as well as MGM had expected, making it a rare disappointment for Garbo and the end of Gilbert's career.