Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Gender Bender/Major lesbian character
Short Take: The great Greta Garbo (bisexual herself) plays Queen Christina, the 17th century lesbian, crossdressing Queen of Sweden.
Alternate Titles:
Year: 1933
Duration: 99 min
Language: USA/English
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Writer: H.M. Harwood, Salka Viertel
Starring: Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Ian Keith, Lewis Stone, Elizabeth Young, C. Aubrey Smith, Reginald Owen, Georges Renavent, David Torrence, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Ferdinand Munier

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Queen ChristinaThe real Queen Christina became the ‘girl king’ of Sweden after her father the king died in battle in 1632. She was raised as a prince, educated as a boy, taking the oath as a king, rather than a queen, and dressing as a man. A lesbian (or perhaps bisexual), she ruled Sweden until her abdication, moving to Italy and living as Count Dohma (a man).

The great Greta Garbo (bisexual herself) plays Queen Christina in this fictional film about her life, which has her abdicating to marry the Spanish envoy (John Gilbert). It does give some flavor of the gender bending nature of the monarch, as we see her dressed as a man most of the time and passing as a nobleman while she is out in the countryside. An innkeeper offers to find ‘him’ female companionship for the night, and a maid comes on to Christina as well.

A year before the Motion Picture Production Code was enforced, we even see Christina kissing a countess (Elizabeth Young), with a hint of what must be a lesbian affair. When her advisor tells Christina that she must not die an old maid, she tells him that, ‘I shall die a bachelor.’

The film, co-written by Garbo’s rumored lover Salka Viertel, is considered by many to be the best, or one of the finest, of Garbo’s performances. It does give Queen Christina a heterosexual ending, but a haunting one at that. (AB)