Hello everyone. My sincere thnaks for your kind welcoming words.Dear Diamonds Circle.
"The painted veil" is definitely a film worth seeing. It is also quite unusual for a Garbo vehicle (especially knowing that she made this right after her androgynous majestic Christina) since as I have mentionned before, there is nothing utterly tragic or femme fatale about her character. Yet, I personally feel that this is one of her most representatif films both for the actress and icon (now I also know that there are many Garbo fans who hate the film but what to say?). It is a matter of taste, but here I find her utterly enchanting and so beautiful (hte scene where she dresses up in white to go to the Chinese festival and puts that white turban is quite simply divine). As for her acting is miraculious and for once she has a most charming and wonderful partner Herbert Marshall. The film was not yet released on DVD but you can still get on on VHS at amazon:http://www.amazon.co...83864422&sr=1-3
It is also interesting to compare it to the other versions. You know there is also a second version of "The painted veil" made in 1957 starring Eleanor Parker called "The seventh sinn". Interesting film but not very satisfactory on a dramatic level. The most interesting parts are the secondary ones (George Sanders as Waddington and Françoise rosay as the mother superior). And then of course you have the most recent one with Naomi Waats, an interesting version. Definitely worth seeing worth seeing and it is a film which gains in terms of dramatic weight as the story progresses.Dear Gold Circle
, thank you for your comments. I am glad we disagree on some matters (imagine if we all agrred on everything). Now the Festival at La Rochelle was passionate and the Garbo tribute trully enchanted the audience. People (many young ones as well) were in awe and after the screenings you could hear people raving about Garbo, her acting,her magic, her beauty. On the other hand, most people were not very kind with Gilbert and sometimes I found myself defening him since I like him very much (but i guess I suppose I am more fond of Gilbert's personality than the actor whom I find uneven). But as I said I love his screen couple with Garbo and I think he helped her immensely in developing as an actress and woman in the Hollywood film industry. I also found Gilbert wonderful in films like "La boheme "with Lillian Gish and in one of his talkies "Downstairs" where he plays an "immoral" character.
With regards to the screening of "Love" at La Rochelle, it is quite funny. They actually showed one ending after the other without any explanation or inermission. So there you see Garbo-Anna committing suicide and one minute later she is back to life againg and you seer the happy ending. Many people who did not know anything about the existence oft he alternate endings were quite perplexed. Of course the sad ending is much more appropriete to the general mood of the film.
Now since we mentiooned my favorite silent "Woman of Affairs" I have written a sort of analysis on this film. This is a film which I highly recommend to every single Garbo admirer. In my opinion this is the Film
who defines her most magically as an actress, icon and personality. You can get it as a VHS on amazon on the following link:http://www.amazon.co...38&sr=1-1-spell
And here is my analysis on "Woman of Affairs". I hope I will not bore you with this and please forgive me for any spelling mistakes:Garbo the ultimate modern heroine: “Woman of Affairs”
After a few successful years in Hollywood, Garbo has firmly established herself as actress and icon. Critics and audiences alike loved her and flogged to see her films. Her partnership with John Gilbert was still sending shivers to female and male cinemagoers around the world.
But despite her success, something was still missing. It had probably something to do with her cinematographic image which did not yet fully capture the complexity and modernity of her persona. This would come just in time with her next film and her next important professional encounter with costume designer Adrian.
“The Green hat” by Michael Arlen was one of the most talked about bestsellers of the 1920s and its tragic heroine Iris March who was reckless, daring, modern and romantic at the same time fully captured the ambiance of the era where women were beginning to emancipate themselves.
It was not surprising that Garbo, after having seen Catherine Cornell portray the part on Broadway expressed her desire to play the part if a film was made. Irving Thalberg jumped on the occasion and they closed the deal buying the rights for the film version. Clarence Brown was chosen to direct and Gilbert was to portray Iris love interest (Napier in the original book).
The main problems the studio encountered had to deal with the censors. There were several elements in the “Green Hat” which would raise quite a few eyebrows among the censors who pointed out every single one of them. The most serious objections had to do with the death of the Boy (Iris first husband) who commits suicide because he has contracted syphilis. There was no way for the censors that they would let pass such a word and so in the film the husband simply became an embezzler who kills himself for decency. They also had to suppress any direct references to the fact about the stillborn baby of Iris a result of her reunion with Napier.
The studio changed the title which became “Woman of Affairs” as well as the characters names. Iris March became Diana Merrick. Napier became Neville, his wife Venice became Constance. But despite these changes the essential remained especially its fascinating heroine. In my humble opinion the film is better structured than the book and more easy to follow since Clarence Brown and the studio kept the most interesting and central elements and restructured the story into a more coherent ensemble which gives greater depth to the principal characters.
It is quite common for both film critics and even many Garbo fans in our days to look down at most of the star’s vehicles, constantly nagging at MGM’s inability to cast the actress in other parts other than the fallen woman or the absence of great film directors guiding her Hollywood career.
This is where I beg to differ and “Woman of Affairs” is a marvellous example which illustrates Garbo’s incomparable gifts and special contribution to film.
It is above all the film which allows her to fully come into her own both as an actress as well as personality with a tantalising modern touch. There are several reasons for this ultimate transformation. For the first time Garbo was given the chance to play a modern woman of her own times, the epitome of the 1920s heroine, brave, reckless, fascinating, defiant of conventions, true and brave always living on the edge of danger and excitement. It was a golden role and Garbo was ideally cast. It was also the first time in her career that she was given the chance to bring out her dual or should I say multi dimensional nature. A part which allowed her to be modern and strong with a slight touch of masculinity yet ultimately feminine, spiritual, romantic and vulnerable.
Adrian who designed Garbo’s costumes for the first time and who subsequently designed her costumes for all her films up to her retirement in 1941 was largely responsible for this miraculous transformation. He was the first who understood Garbo’s unique appeal and was not afraid to underline her large shoulders with a marvellous trench coat which made her look more secure and confident than ever in her movement with what was to become her trademark the famous slouch hat which underlined the youthfulness of her face and its divine features.
But costume for Adrian as well as for Garbo was above all a most valuable tool for dramatic action, a key for storytelling and character definition. His costumes for Diana in “Woman of Affairs” are actually very close to the description of Irish March in “The green hat”, but what is more important is that each costume and the way Garbo moves through it tell the audience something important about the character she is portraying in the film. The trench coat, slouch hat in the opening scenes allow Garbo to establish the modern and confident part of the heroine, playful, standing on an equal feet with men in a man’s world, shaking hands with them like a true gentleman.
Even her enemies see that gentleman nature of her character, most notably John Gilbert’s father played by Hobart Hobsworth. As fate weights more and more heavily on Diana, her wardrobe becomes more feminine, bringing out the vulnerable and ethereal part of her character. In the admirable scene where Diana confronts her brother Jeffrey (accompanied by Gilbert, his father as well as her best friend played by Lewis Stone) after her husband’s suicide on their honeymoon at Deauville, she is dressed in a simple stark black dress and moves with tragic and moving dignity in it desperately bending towards her brother’s side in search for some consolation only to sink in resignation in an armchair in order to take all the blame for her husband’s death in order to save her brother’s ideal.
What Garbo does in every single scene of this admirable yet still neglected film is nothing short of miraculous. She invests every single gesture, expression of her character with beauty, conviction making us share with her every single thought and emotion of Diana. It is a performance which re-establishes the art of film acting and which should be seen by many people who tend to claim that silent films are caricatures with exaggerated acting and that Garbo was simply a legend who wanted to be alone or left alone with no enduring film legacy.
Look at her early scenes how playfully she imitates her brother at the couch when he is angry at her and how she burst into laughter turning her back on him until he finally perceives her laughing in the mirror. See the touching girlish expression in her face as she shares a secret with her best friend (Lewis Stone) when she thinks in vain that she will marry Gilbert in secret, her desperation and moving pride as she confronts Gilbert’s father who unexpectedly comes to announce her that his son has left for Egypt and has no intention in marrying her.
Garbo’s Diana is a strong yet extremely gentle and generous nature and this touch of generosity is one of her biggest strengths. How many so called “great” performers of our days have shown one ounce of generosity and understanding for human nature in her “big” acting? Garbo’s key element in her performances especially in this one is her capacity to open up her soul into everything which surrounds her: people, flowers inanimate objects. She displays a rare spiritual quality of understanding and eventually accepting human beings with all their shortcomings and mistakes like a gentle human goddess who has descended to earth to grace and lighten up our dim world only to disappear again from our mortal site.
Her face shows sadness yet understanding and generosity when her husband embraces her during their doomed wedding night. He is in love with her, but not her with him as she still loves Gilbert. Yet she understands him and genuinely feels his love and desperation for her.
Her generosity is the key element which guides her admirable subsequent scene when she confronts her brother who furiously and unjustifiably believes that she is responsible for his best friend’s death. Garbo performs the entire scene with an amazing tragic dignity. She emerges from her room where she is supported by a nurse. She stretches her head and hands towards her brother’s direction clearly perceiving his rejection and then desperately sinking in an armchair determined to accept all the blame for something she did not commit. The execution of the scene is like a graceful, slow tragic dance. Garbo performs this dance with slight movements, subtle facial expressions passing from helplessness and vulnerability to resignation, dignity and doom. She is the tragic muse, Sophocle’s Antigone knowing that she will sacrifice herself in order to save her ideals and those she loves.
Another wonderful example of her generous nature is displayed during her reunification scene with Gilbert when she enters his rooms and perceives a photograph of his fiancée Constance (portrayed by Dorothy Sebastian). Her face glows with gentleness and understanding as she contemplates the picture of the girl, intuitively understanding that Constance is also a generous, brave nature with whom she already establishes a special bond. The wonderful and subtle playing with objects continues as Garbo answers to Gilbert’s claim that her “ring is loose” that she was told that she was “like this ring up to fall but that with a little effort she can keep it). Garbo sinks on the couch and the two lovers embrace as her ring falls from her finger. Brown films the scene with astonishing fluidity and grace admirably contemplating Garbo’s special gift with the camera as well as her ability to convey emotions and thoughts with inanimate objects.
The film’s most memorable scene occurs at the French hospital where Diana lies ill after a miscarriage she has suffered (from Gilbert’s child). Gilbert pays her a visit with Constance and has already sent her a bouquet of roses which are removed from her room. He is unable to make her recognize her and the recognition will come through once more through an object the bouquet of roses. Suddenly with perceive in a long shot a frenzied Garbo in delirium frantically searching the bouquet of roses which was taken away from her room.
Her panic and desperation are dissolved as she sees the bouquet of flowers and stretches her hands moving like a dancer towards her beloved objects’ direction. In what remains one of the most privileged moments in all Garbo filmography she takes the flowers in her hands caresses it preciously as if it were her lover or her lost child. Through the shock of this discovery she will eventually recognize Gilbert as well as Constance though the memory of the photograph she has seen of her. We are definitely entering into Proust’s territory here, and Garbo is the most eloquent performer to suggest sensations, memories of the past mingling with the present as well as the future. Out of a single scene which in the hands of another performer it would probably end up as pure melodrama, she has created poetry, something utterly divine. As she lies back in her hospital bed sleeping in peace clutching her flowers which lovingly frame her perfect face she looks more like Ophelia in her death bed than someone who has come to life and this would very likely be described as a death scene without death actually taking place.
Garbo’s Diana is a mythological yet utterly human creature which tells us as much as we need to know about human nature. Garbo’s Diana makes us as aware to human beings as well as all inanimate objects and the universe that surround our existence. She makes us see and feel that everything which surrounds us has its own meaning and truth and that life like the art of film is a fascinating mystery which only she as true goddess has the key to it.