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With the advent of the latest adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Andrew L. Urban pays tribute to Greta Garbo, one of the greats of cinema, who played the title role in the 1935 film, directed by Clarence Brown, for which Garbo won the New York Film Critics Circle Award.

Play the song 'I WANT TO BE ALONE' that Andrew Urban wrote and Louise Keller sings in tribute to Garbo.

Greta Garbo was arguably the greatest Anna; her natural melancholy, her mystique and her haunting beauty fused seamlessly with the character she portrayed. The film also won the Best Foreign Film award at Venice and was named one of the 10 Best Films of the Year by the National Board of Review. Her co-stars were Frederick March as the handsome Vronsky with whom she has the tragic affair, Basil Rathbone as her husband Sergei Karenin, Maureen O’Sullivan as Kitty and Reginald Owen as her suitor Stiva. Garbo had already starred in the role in the 1927 silent version, but she truly defined the character in the talking version. She is both radiant and vulnerable throughout the film, the centre of the emotional storm that engulfs her.

Born on September 18, 1905 in Sweden, Garbo was 14 when her father died, leaving the family destitute. She went to work at a store, where she modelled clothes, which eventually led her to acting – and finally to Hollywood, in 1926.

Garbo was nominated four times for an Academy Award and received an honorary one in 1954 for her "luminous and unforgettable screen performances".

By 1941 when she retired at just 36, she had made 28 films – but she had already made an indelible impression on the history of cinema. She died at age 84 in New York, on April 15, 1990.

The latest adaptation of Anna Karenina, directed by Joe Wright from a screenplay by Tom Stoppard is a cinematic marvel; it stars Keira Knightley in the title role and is in cinemas in Australia from February 7, 2013.

Published January 17, 2013

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Greta Garbo

Performed by

Louise Keller (circa 1980)

Lyrics: Andrew L. Urban
Music: Paul Dion

The poster for the 1935 film

Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley releases February 14, 2013

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