• Rebecca Lerner

Ecstasy for sure

I'm still thinking about Greta Garbo.

It's been a veritable two to three years since I saw a Garbo movie, definitely as least two since I went on a hunt in my university's film library to find evidence of her bisexuality and romantic dalliances. I'm not too worried about all of that anymore. Although I'm not going to deny you all this photo from Queen Christina when she fully kisses a woman on the mouth in 1933 twice. (The maid she kisses is assumed to be the real life Christina's lover.)

But more than the illicit affairs and any behind the scenes action, I'm still thinking about the end of Queen Christina.

Queen Christina is a pre-code Hollywood film, in which Queen Christina of Sweden is fighting the Thirty Years War when she meets handsome man from Spain and falls in love. She ultimately has to choose between love and her duty to her country and she abdicates the throne. In the last shot, after her lover dies, she resolves to go back to his home in Spain. The director told Garbo not to think or blink or move at all, to be a "blank canvas" so that the audience could write their own ending for the film.

Roland Barthes refers to Garbo's face in this scene several times as a "mask," a "face in plaster," which makes Garbo's face an "idea." In this projection, the inexpressible is contained in this vacant expression, and we allow women's faces and bodies to be the site of exploration for others.

How does this live on today? I can't stop thinking about resting bitch face, or RBF as those afflicted with the condition affectionately call it. The way a woman who is not smiling is subject to a magnificent leap of unfaith and mistrust, all the way to bitch. What we hide in our expectations, our assumptions utter.

P.S. did not put a spoiler alert but don't be mad about a spoiler for a movie from 1933 lol


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