Movie Time: Anna Christie (1931) [German Version]

anna christie greta garbo german

Another Garbo film! This blog is turning into quite the Garbo-fest. I watched Anna Christie auf Deutsch (with English subs). There are a lot of differences between the English and German versions. All the actors apart from Greta are different in each version and the German version is more frank about Anna’s past. Also, as Raymond Daum puts it in Walking with Garbo, they “tarted her up” for the German version.

anna christie german garbo

Greta seems incredibly comfortable with the German language. I wish she’d done more German films. I don’t recall reading that she spoke German before her Hollywood days but perhaps German phonology is easier than English for the Swedish tongue.

Crazily enough, they didn’t alter any of the sets or the storyline to account for the fact that everyone is speaking German. The bathroom door reads ‘Ladies’ Entrance’ and we are supposed to believe that Anna grew up in Minnesota  Another criticism that I have is that there are a lot of bad cuts in the film and the pace is rather slow at times.

The film was adapted from a play by Eugene O’Neill, first presented in 1921. Anna’s father is an alcoholic and her mother died when she was young. She was raised with relatives on a farm but her life there was miserable and tragic. Later she becomes a prostitute and develops a hatred for men. The film starts with her meeting her father for the first time in 15 years.

Compared to Baby Face, another uncensored film that deals with promiscuity, Anna Christie is a lot more direct and realistic. Its realism is due to the fact that the emotional consequences of Anna’s rough life are dealt with and Greta acts these scenes brilliantly. Older films can feel like they are covered by a veneer that prevents any truly heavy emotion from seeping through but this film does not gloss things over.


I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t point out that Greta’s hair looks awesome in this film. Soft, fluffy curls.

All in all, this film is far from perfect (certainly from a technical perspective!) but it offers a taste of realism that differs from the usual gentle Hollywood approach.


One thought on “Movie Time: Anna Christie (1931) [German Version]

  1. Great review. I like how you compare this with Baby Face. I’ve only seen the German version, which I really like, but I will watch the English one too. I think it’s nice to hear her speaking German. How great it would have been if there was a Swedish talking movie of her.

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