The price of LOVE: Garbo & Gilbert do Tolstoy


directed by Edmund Goulding, starring Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, 1927


MGM's twist on G & G being 'in Love' helped sell the film.

MGM’s twist on the two stars being ‘in Love’ helped sell the film.

If you’re trying to impress your date with the magic of silent film, then LOVE might not be quite the right choice, despite its promising title. It’s not the best example of the ‘golden age’ of silent film and was of interest to 1920s movie-goers principally because the two stars, Greta Garbo and John Gilbert were, at the time, in love – a double entendre that MGM turned into a slogan for the film. Love is Edmund Goulding’s version of Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina, the turbulence of her life being echoed in the emotional dramas played off screen by G & G. It didn’t end well for the hard-drinking Gilbert: Garbo refused to marry him. After struggling to make the transition to sound films, he suffered a fatal heart attack nine years later.

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In February, at London’s glorious Royal Festival Hall on a chilly end-of-winter night, Love launched the UK-Russia Year of Language and Literature, led by the British Council Frank Strobel conducted the resident, and brilliant, Philharmonia Orchestra for the world premiere of Aphrodite Raickopoulou’s new symphonic score, written especially for the Russian virtuoso Vadim Repin, whose tone and sensitivity with the violin was remarkable. According to the RFH website Yehudi Menuhin described him as ‘the best violinist I have ever heard’.

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