Archive for the ‘Grand Hotel’ Category

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Behind the Eyes of A Sphinx

February 3, 2007

Greta Garbo by Clarence Bull

Here we speak of a woman named Greta Gustafsson. The Swedish Sphinx, they called her under another name. She came from Stockholm and captured the eyes of the entire world. They, at first, did not know her voice, but soon fell in love with it when she ordered a whiskey.

She was a woman of strength. She persevered through silence and sound, felt love and loss at it’s worst, and shaped the dreams of audiences everywhere. After a life in front of cameras she quickly changed, spending her latter days strolling up and down the streets of 5th Avenue and buying antiques for her spacious New York apartment. Then a life of near seclusion followed. Hidden by her fear of overzealous fans and selfless mobs always hounding her. Setting herself apart from those, who without shame, photographed her from atop great high-rises as if she were an oddity. Her life was puzzling in ways that many cannot understand.

Those who knew her called her a woman of great humor. But, behind that humor you saw something of pain in her eyes. On the film rolls you saw a woman, often crying for help. “What is this pain?” you asked yourself. It had to be true, if it resonated so on the screen. You wanted to push through the walls of the screen and protect her from the world that was troubling her.

You wanted to hold Anna Christie in your arms, in spite of the profession she held, of which her new-found beau and absentee father disapproved. You wanted to tell Grusinskaya, the Russian ballerina, that Baron Geigern was dead. You wanted to save her the pain of wondering why he would never make it to the train. You wanted to give Christina, queen of Sweden, a bit of comfort after the loss of Antonio, for whom she gave her crown away. You then feel guilt. If only you could have grabbed Anna Karenina before she took her own life, you could have told her that Vronsky still had feelings for her. And you’d tell Marguerite Gautier that Armand, wherever he was, still loved her.

You wanted to bring yourself to tears. You felt all these things. It made you realize that someone who could bring about such a selection of feelings, could possibly have been the greatest actress in all of the world. And that’s what she was. She was Garbo.

Kyle W. Sutton