• Mata Hari
    1 minutes 45 seconds
    Added: May 9, 2008

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Mata Hari Reviews

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AJ V

Super Reviewer

September 3, 2010
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.
dietmountaindew
dietmountaindew

Super Reviewer

May 31, 2008
"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 navaro...so 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.
Anastasia B

Super Reviewer

March 13, 2011
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.
jam233
August 2, 2009
A bit hokey and melodramatic. The presence of Greta Garbo is very welcome, she makes the film. Very nicely photographed. Good production. Lavish sets. More of a romance than a story about the legendary spy.
sepio41
October 28, 2008
garbo was given another opportunity to play a spy in this fanciful version of the life at dutch secret agent mata hari.
August 9, 2013
Some confusion in this film on who is on who's side and why.... most of the acting and camera work is stilted - like it's a silent film.
Film  Fanatic
July 10, 2013
A true Classic with Garbo fans in mind.
September 25, 2012
Garbo at her most beautiful and mysterious!!
August 18, 2011
This was not was I was expecting. Russian spy Mata Hari (Garbo) is working as a dancer in an exotic nightclub. When a cop finds out that she may be betraying their country he sends two men: a soldier (Navarro) and a commander (Barrymore), but they eventually fall under Mata Haris alluring spell. But when the commander betrays her, she has to figure out how to save herself before it's too late. "Mata Hari" is a movie that I hear about all the time when I hear the name Greta Garbo. I put it at the top of my queue after seeing "Flesh and the Devil" (starring her and John Gilbert) and was anxious to see the result. The unfortunate answer, is that I wasn't very impressed. The acting from Navarro is wooden and terrible, cardboard could be a better Russian soldier than the Spanish actor. I am not saying he was awful, just very very misscasted. Even Lionel Barrymore who I'm usually impressed by isn't all that great, and was sad to think that this was the first time I have really frowned upon his skill. A shame. Luckily, this movie is save by Greta Garbo. Though the idiotic script did not give her a lot to work with, she made the most of her role and was very convincing as the exotic dancer. Like most reviewers say, she does seem to slink around from room to room, and her presence overshadows both Navarro and Barrymore which for me was a good thing. All in all, this was really not that good of a movie, but lovers of the great Garbo will like it anyway. PS: What's the movie picture at the top? "The Devil to Pay"? Never heard of it.
gillianren
June 16, 2011
Garbo Spies!

Her name was Margaretha Geertruida "Grietje" Zelle. She was born in Leeuwarden in the Netherlands, her family wealthy until she was about thirteen. She married Captain Rudolph MacLeod, who had advertised for a wife in a Dutch newspaper. The couple moved to Java, at the time a Dutch colony, and had two children. The marriage was a disaster, not helped by the death of their son--or the fact that he was sleeping with a "native wife" and concubine. Eventually, they returned to the Netherlands, and the couple divorced in 1907. She took to the stage, claiming to be a Javanese princess who was raised Hindu. She had spent her time in Java studying local culture, and she performed what she claimed were native dances. She had any number of lovers, usually high profile ones, but as World War I approached, that began to seem less dangerous and more exotic. During the war, as a citizen of a neutral country, she was able to travel essentially where she pleased, which was also suspicious.

Here, she is Greta Garbo, herself a mysterious figure as far as the American public was concerned. She is Mata Hari, seductive dancer who has been wooing men to do her will. She works for Andriani (Lewis Stone), who runs a spy network. Mata Hari seduces soldiers into giving her information they aren't supposed to give to anyone, and she passes it on. Russian General Shubin (Lionel Barrymore) is infatuated with her, but Mata Hari has moved onto Lieutenant Alexis Rosanoff (Ramon Novarro). Shubin was business; Rosanoff is both business and pleasure. In fine old movie fashion, she starts out seducing him so that she can get information from him, but she really begins to fall in love with him. The problem, however, is that the French Secret Service, in the person of Dubois (C. Henry Gordon), is on to her, and it's only a matter of time before she is captured. And that's if her own people don't get her first.

We want Mata Hari to fit the story we have of her. We want her to be the cunning seductress, the woman who was the most clever spy in World War I. It was claimed at the time that her actions were responsible for the deaths of 50,000 French soldiers. She told the British that she was working as a French spy, so she was really executed for being a double agent. We don't want to consider that she may well have been lying about being a French agent, and the idea that she may not have been an agent for anyone is unthinkable. However, as the records have been unsealed, they have consistently shown that she was innocent. Certainly it's hard to imagine that she could have been responsible for remotely as many deaths as she was accused of having done. The pictures show that she was a lovely woman, though hardly exotic in appearance, and that even her "nude" poses probably involved body stockings. Very little of the legend of Mata Hari is real, and quite a lot of it comes from people picturing Garbo instead.

Of course, she is luminous in the role, whereas she would not have been in a more authentic characterization. It's hard to imagine Garbo as the mere victim of circumstance. On the other hand, I think many of her characters are more trying to steer a sinking ship. Garbo's version of Mata Hari became a spy almost on a whim. It sounded fun and exciting. In no version is she German, so it can't be patriotism. Garbo's Mata Hari seems to have been drawn to being a spy for the adventure of it, I think, and once there's something more important to her out there, she wants to go for that instead. However, she is unable to. Her performance of Mata Hari's performance at the end is that of a woman trying to shape the last hours of her life as best she can. From the beginning of the movie, her path was set, but she spends the whole of the movie making sure that she's the one doing the walking. It's not her fault that there is nowhere left to turn at that point.

At one point in the movie, Mata Hari performs what would be a despicable act even if it weren't for the spying she's doing meanwhile. Ramon Novarro has a picture his mother brought back from Lourdes, one he has sworn to keep a light burning under. Mata Hari needs the dark so her coconspirators can steal the messages he is supposed to be carrying, photograph them, and return them without his knowledge. But he has sworn to keep that light burning; he even has his valet take care of it while he himself is off performing his war-related duties. Mata Hari makes it a test of his love. If he loves her, he will extinguish every light. Including that one. He tells her that he will do anything she asks for their love, but he begs her not to ask that. (Maybe it's what Meat Loaf won't do?) And indeed, true love does not set such tests, so far as I am concerned. Naturally, the circumstances here are much more complicated, though the fact that it's about spying doesn't make it better.
geojones
April 18, 2007
Directed by George Fitzmaurice
Starring Greta Garbo, Ramon Novarro, Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone, C. Henry Gordon

Garbo is the one and only true goddess of the screen. She never fails to mesmerize in whatever role she plays, be it a Russian emissary, a prostitute, the Swedish Queen or a Dutch double agent posing as an exotic dancer—the legendary Mata Hari. If you haven’t noticed all of her leading men acted the same way: like lovesick fools. Her leading man Ramon Navarro as a decorated lieutenant was inches away from sanity, but it was Lionel Barrymore as Mata Hari’s protector general Shubin who was stupendously charming. Directed by George Fitzmaurice, the movie is but a romanticizing of the Mata Hari legend and when they start referring to her as “Mata!” “Mata!” you’d know.

Best Scene: Mata Hari and a worried Shubin.
QUOTE: Subin: You liar.
Mata Hari: “Good morning, liar, would be more polite.”
jazza923
November 22, 2005
A bit hokey and melodramatic. The presence of Greta Garbo is very welcome, she makes the film. Very nicely photographed. Good production. Lavish sets. More of a romance than a story about the legendary spy.
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