French writer Roland Barthes’ magnificent short essay, “The Face of Garbo,” begins with a hint of melancholy.
“Garbo still belongs to that moment in cinema when capturing the human face still plunged audiences into the deepest ecstasy, when one literally lost oneself in a human image as one would in a philtre, when the face represented a kind of absolute state of the flesh, which could be neither reached nor renounced.” (Roland Barthes, Mythologies).
Indeed, Greta Garbo was, and continues to be, a source of intrigue for those allured by her inarguable beauty. In a time when so many public figures strive to be noticed, whether for good or bad, it is refreshing to think that Garbo desired privacy. Barthes’ essay conjures a beautiful understanding of Garbo, the woman whom we cannot help but be attracted to.