Mata Hari (1932) - Rotten Tomatoes

Mata Hari (1932)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

"So much for Carlotta" muses the head of German Espionage, shortly after secret agent Karen Morley is put to death. Morley's successor is exotic dancer Mata Hari, an enigmatic woman of Javanese-Dutch ancestry. Assigned to intercept allied war messages, Mata Hari romances garrulous general Lionel Barrymore.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Leo Birinski, Benjamin Glazer, Leo Birinsky, Doris Anderson, Gilbert Emery
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 6, 2005
MGM Home Entertainment

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Greta Garbo
as Mata Hari
Ramon Novarro
as Lt. Alexis Rosanoff
Lionel Barrymore
as Gen. Serge Shubin
Lewis Stone
as Andriani
Karen Morley
as Carlotta
Blanche Frederici
as Sister Angelica
Helen Jerome Eddy
as Sister Genevieve
Frank Reicher
as The Cook, a Spy
Sarah Padden
as Sister Theresa
Mischa Auer
as Executed Man
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Mata Hari

Critic Reviews for Mata Hari

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (4)

Though Garbo is sexy and hot in a less subtle way this time, and though the plot goes about as far as it can in situation warmth, the story presents nothing sensational.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

The film is Garbo's even before she appears on screen to dazzle her willing audience; once there, it becomes impossible to dissociate the legend of the star from the myth of Mata Hari.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A glamourous and romantic conception of the latter days of the life of the Dutch dancer and courtesan who was shot as a spy by the French in 1917.

Full Review… | January 28, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Greta Garbo tries to wheedle secrets out of Ramon Navarro and Lewis Stone in her most ludicrous film.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Garbo is stunning.

Full Review… | September 4, 2012
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Not Garbo's greatest but it has a curious charm.

Full Review… | September 4, 2012
Empire Magazine

Audience Reviews for Mata Hari

A very interesting movie, based on real life, but the film makers could have done a better job with putting this movie together. It just doesn't grab your attention, it's boring.

Aj V

Super Reviewer


"mata hari" is one of early vehicles for greta garbo in her sound stage, but the tale within the movie is entirely fictional despite there's truly a courtesan named mata hari existed in french history. in reality, the promiscuous courtesan who introduces hindu mysticism in her luring dances is simply a sappy lewd woman who naively assumes she could cheat german and french bureaus without offering any spy service, so she's caught to be made as an example despite she committed no actual treasury against france during wwi. but greta gabo's cinematic interpretation gives "mata hari" a subtext of feminism. garbo's mata hari is a real german spy with shrewd intelligence to utilize her own sex appeal to obtain secret information by infiltrating the french bureau until she falls head over heels in love with the russian pilot played by ramon she loses her usual composure then slips away into fatal exposure, incurring the doom of her own execution.

mata hari in historical reality is more of a kept prostitute for the idle riches, a woman who masters in life of luxury by the favors of men. she could be deemed as feminist more from an assertive perspective of sexual liberation, cut loose from conventional confinement of female virtues, a dionysian figure of individualistic self-indulgence. except this aspect, mata hari is simply a higher class whore who is unjustly punished for her careless mistake.

BUT garbo's incarnation as mata hari would be more like a professional woman who is skillful enough to serve her duty as a spy, and also intelligent enough to dodge the governmental prying eyes, a modern woman with wits and charm to evolve her social status into the deity of men, dominating men with her allure meanwhile she belongs to no one but herself. when she chooses to love, she dives into the pit of amour relentlessly. as approaching her own demise, her face is glowing with the ecstasy of passion, her lips parted, repentless with her transient but sparkling life of gaiety.

the movie treats mata hari with ultimate sacredness as ramon navaro exclaims "i adore you almost like i adore all the sacred things in life", and it presents a highly idealized contour of the divine woman whose love is precious enough to die for. but still, she's humanized into the martyr of man's love, a romanticist who would rather sacrifice herself to save her beloved. they're larger-than-life tales of romanticism since 30s audience craves for the dreamy escapism to shudder from the grim depression then. in contemporary standard, they all appear corny and preposterous to cynicists.

the most phenomenal achievement for "mata hari" belongs to the costume design of adrian who dubs greta garbo with numerous head gears which are allegedly furnaced by garbo's lesbian admirer mercedes de acosta who also had a fling with marlene dietrich.

movies like "mata hari" which manifests women in a lofty and respectful light could sell because women then still held a mystic glitter to men, and female sex appeal remained as something men desire to conquer and linger with yearnings just like coveting someone without onanistic release. (pardon the expression)...nowadays it's more like incessant onanism which leaves you callous since sex is overflown everywhere.

Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

If this film had a better script, with less melodrama, it would be an absolute masterpiece. It's the amazing presence of Garbo, who's giving such a vivid performance that feels like the character comes alive on the screen. Amazing, amazing, amazing Garbo. Here you can see the reason why she became such a great star. The Mata Hari vehicle is also interesting for another reason. Mata treats men like equals - even her boss. Men treat her like a godess - and she may toy with them, to do her job, but ultimately, she values their humanity. Mata Hari is such an interesting personality, it's no wonder this character has become a legend. In this film we also see how progressive the 30s movies have been in treating women. Highly recommended despite its faults.

Anastasia Bartzoulianou

Super Reviewer

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