“I thought I ‘knew’ Greta Garbo.” This is how Swedish author and filmmaker Lena Einhorn begins the epilogue of her novel Blekinge Street 32/Blekingegatan 32 (Nordstedts, 2013). In a companion lecture to the novel, Einhorn examines a brief and relatively unknown period in Greta Garbo’s young life.
Since Einhorn had already made a Swedish television documentary about Garbo, she had reason to spend many hours with learning about this inaccessible and mostly unhappy woman who was once the world’s greatest movie star – a movie star who hailed from the poorest district of Stockholm, rose to be the most famous Hollywood actress over almost two decades, and retired at age 36, with the famous words: “I want to be left alone.”
Einhorn thought she knew Garbo, until she read the 33 letters that Garbo sent to fellow actress Mimi Pollak, beginning when the two young women were students in Stockholm, and continuing long after the end of Garbo’s career. Pollak was said to have kept these letters in her purse through her entire life. Suddenly a completely different Greta Garbo emerged: a woman who had once had other choices in life and who already felt she had achieved her dreams and happiness, when a world-famous film director – Mauritz Stiller – came forward and explained to her that she could go further than that, much, much further
Special thanks to the Consulate General of Sweden, New York.
About Lena Einhorn
Lena Einhorn is an author, filmmaker, and director. Her book Nina’s Journey/Ninas resa received the prestigious August Prize (2005); the film adaptation of the same name was awarded two Guldbagge for Best Film and Best Manuscript (2006).
Her film Stateless, Arrogant, and Lunatic/Handelsresande i liv (1998) won the Prix Europa (1999) and was nominated for an Emmy (1998).
Einhorn’s documentary From the Shadows of the Past/Ur det förflutnas dunkel(2000) was awarded the Le Prix Aventure et Découverte medal in 2002. Siri (Nordstedts, 2011) is her first literary novel.
In 2014, Blekinge Street 32 was awarded the Garbo Prize.