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Queen Christina – Rouben Mamoulian

Submitted by on January 22, 2011 – 1:41 amNo Comment

As Christina, dressed as a man, and Aage ride through, the snow, they see a coach fall into a rut. Christina’s laughter annoys the coach’s passenger, Don Antonio de la Prada, a Spanish ambassador on his way to see her on behalf of his King. Christina has Aage help the coachman and then tells Antonio the way to an inn. Not recognizing her, Antonio has his servant Pedro (Akim Tamiroff) give her a coin with her own likeness engraved upon it.

When Christina arrives at the inn and takes the last available room, the innkeeper (Ferdinand Munier), thinking she is a man, offers her a companion for the night; Antonio recognizes her from the road and also believes she is a man. (In these sections of the film in which Christina successfully carries out the male masquerade, Garbo takes a delightful tongue-in-cheek approach, and when the scene calls for a hearty laugh from the supposedly stoic star, Garbo rises to the occasion.) Although she has never been to Spain, Christina tells the Spanish ambassador that his homeland is close to her heart. When Antonio brings up the topic of love, Christina defines love as something simple and elemental. She then stops a fight between two drunks who argue that the queen has had either six or nine lovers in the past year. The correct number, she announces, is twelve. The innkeeper then asks the two gentlemen to share the room, and she agrees after Antonio is insulted by her offering it to him completely. Elsa, a saucy maid (Barbara Barondess), tries to entice Christina, who defers. When Christina removes her coat, it is obvious to Antonio that she is a woman. Because of the snows, they spend several days together, and Christina promises to see Antonio in Stockholm.

Donning a gown for the first time in the film, Christina forgives Ebba and again scorns Magnus, who notices how beautiful she looks. In court, Antonio is shocked into silence at the first sight of the queen. Magnus gives him a “friendly warning” before Christina grants Antonio a private audience. While he appreciates a royal jest, Antonio feels unlucky being her thirteenth lover. She laughs at the portrait of King Philip of Spain, who seeks a marriage, and tells Antonio she loves him.

Magnus uses agents to stir resentment against Antonio; he also gets Charles’s attention. When a mob storms the castle, Christina confronts them alone and tells them that she is doing her job by right of inheritance and that they should do the same. Later, Magnus takes Antonio away for the latter’s “safety” and confronts Christina with his treachery. She signs an order for Antonio to sail home, but secretly intends to go with him. Late at night, Christina tells Oxenstierna that she is tired of being a symbol; he counters with, “Greatness demands all.” After nominating Charles to succeed her, Christina abdicates and rides to the ship, where she finds Antonio mortally wounded in a duel with Magnus. Promising never to leave him, Christina watches Antonio die; then she prepares to sail for his homeland and his house on a cliff.

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