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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Conquest (released in 1937) - Starring Greta Garbo, Charles Boyer and Reginald Owen

Conquest is a movie about Countess Marie Walewska who becomes the mistress of Napolean Bonaparte to safeguard the interests of her country. This enigmatic polish countess was the mistress of Napolean and even comforted him during his days in exile.
This movie stars Greta Garbo as Marie Walewska along with Cajrles Boyer, Reginald Owen, dame May Witty and others. The movie was adapted by S. N. Behrman, Samuel Hoffenstein, Helen Jerome and Salka Viertel from the novel Pani Walewska by Waclaw Gasiorowski and it was directed by Clarence Brown.
Marie Walewska is the beautiful wife of the polish count Walewska. In the winter of 1807,the pillaging Russian soldiers over run Eastern Poland, the land of Count and Countess Walewska. They make fun of the aging Count and his young wife and they become mortally afraid of the Russian Army. Marie's brother informs her about the exploits of Napoleon and when Marie briefly meets him at a church she is suitably impressed as he is enthralled by her beauty. After two months she is formally presented to the French emperor at the court and she is grateful that Napoleon makes no allusion about their earlier meetings.

Napoleon is totally taken in by Marie and send her love notes begging her responses. She confides in her husband who tries to take her away. But the Polish leaders, seeing a chance to liberate Poland, urge her to give in to Napoleon. A patriotic Marie gives in and begins to have an affair with Napoleon. Even though she trades her virtue for her country, she slowly falls in love with the charismatic emperor.
Marie's husband leaves for Rome and gets a divorce which enables her to stay with the emperor. Napoleon takes up his quarters within Marie's home and their idyllic trysts are only marred by Napoleon's frequent absences. Soon Marie is pregnant and she awaits the birth of her baby in secret. She leaves to meet Napoleon in Vienna where she comes to know that he is to marry Princess Marie Louise of Austria of the Hapsburg dynasty. He tells her the blue bloodline of the Hapsburg's would enable him to create his own bloodline of rulers.
A devastated Marie returns to Poland and gives birth to a son Alexandre. She never informs Napoleon about his son. Soon the fortunes of Napoleon change for the worst and he suffers successive defeats at the hands of the Russians and the English. After the disastrous campaign of Waterloo napoleon is exiled to the Island of Elba. Marie and her son live with him till he dies.
This movie was one of the most disastrous movie in Greta Garbo's career and was a loss making venture for MGM studios. Actually it is said to have marked the downfall of Greta Garbo's career with her being more and more reclusive. The costumes, cinematography, sound, music and art are to perfection and Garbo looks the part of the ethereal beauty Marie. But it is still a critically acclaimed movie which presents the facts with considerable accuracy. The movie was nominated for two Oscars namely, for the Best Actor in a Leading Role (Charles Boyer) and Best Art Direction (Cedric Gibbons and William A. Horning}.

Conquest (released in 1937) - Starring Greta Garbo, Charles Boyer and Reginald Owen

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