ABSTRACT

In this opening sequence, Garbo’s Marguerite Gautier is confi ned, but her fl exibility of movement counteracts the constraint and rigidity. The restricted space of the carriage frames and encloses, and she necessarily must sit, but this channels movement into the upper body and intensifi es it. She is sandwiched between two older women (one outside and one inside the carriage), stiff and unrefi ned, but their stridency focuses her delicacy. The circumscribed space oppresses, but it permits a concentration of movement, and so the fi lm immediately establishes a vital dramatic current: the possibilities for (Marguerite’s) expression within a stifl ing social framework. Her smelling of the camellias relaxes and softens her, but as she turns her head slightly and redirects her eyes, it also intoxicates-“I will have twice as many tomorrow”—her voice full of velvety desire and mellow voraciousness. Then, as she removes the camellias from her face, she looks on them with loving admiration and satisfaction and mouths unspoken words to her baby.