Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

'I Am Almost Always Alone': Auctioned Letters Explore Greta Garbo’s Private Life

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

We rarely get access to the true, unfiltered inner lives of celebrities, especially not those who lived long before the invasive rise of social media and TMZ. Yet a batch of Greta Garbo’s letters going up for auction from Sotheby’s reveals the on-screen star’s inner turmoil, as The Guardian reports.

The collection includes 36 letters from Garbo to her close friend in Sweden, Countess Märta Wachtmeister. Most of the letters (which are written in Swedish) are signed by the actress, though in some cases, she instead signed them “The Clown” or drew a female figure instead of signing her name.

Written largely during the 1930s and 1940s, at the height of her fame as a leading lady, they show Garbo’s honest, often cutting assessments of life in Beverly Hills, the movies she was working on, and her loneliness.

Two letters written by Greta Garbo in Swedish side-by-side
Courtesy Sotheby's

In several of these missives, she expresses dismay or contempt for how the movies she’s working on are progressing. “It's been a difficult time, it all went wrong," she wrote of the 1933 historical film Queen Christina. "I'm half-done with Christina now and half-done is what she's going to be when she's finished." (Nevertheless, the film would go on to be a critical and commercial success.) She writes that Ninotchka, her 1939 comedy, "doesn't amount to much,” and complains about changes to her final film, the 1941 flop Two-Faced Woman—while admitting that she didn’t do much to stop them. (“Since I would rather go walking in the country than fight for stories, it will have turned out like it has,” she writes.)

She also admits to feeling crushing loneliness at home in Beverly Hills. “I am almost always alone and talk to myself,” she writes. “I drive to the beach and take walks and that's always marvelous. But that's it …” She talks about yearning to go back to Tistad Castle, the Countess’s home in Sweden, saying “The last few days here have been grey and I have been thinking a lot about Tistad. About summers there when it rains and that marvelous melancholy enfolds us.” In another snippet, she writes, "I live in the memories of Tistad.”

The collection of letters is valued at between $20,200 and $27,000, and goes on sale at Sotheby’s in London on December 11.

[h/t The Guardian]

5 Film Transitions Worth Knowing

You see them every day, on TV shows, the news, and in movies, but how well do you know the most oft-used film transitions? Here are the big five:


The dissolve is an editing technique where one clip seems to fade—or dissolve—into the next. As the first clip is fading out, getting lighter and lighter, the second clip starts fading in, becoming more and more prominent. The process usually happens so subtly and so quickly, the viewer isn't even aware of the transition. The above video offers a great overview of the cut, with examples.


This transition is the opposite of the dissolve in that it draws attention to itself. The best example of the wipe is what's known as the Iris Wipe, which you usually find in silent films, like Buster Keaton's or the Merrie Melodies cartoons—the circle getting smaller and smaller. Other wipe shapes include stars, diamonds, and the old turning clock.

The Star Wars films are chock-full of attention-grabbing wipes. Here are two good examples from The Empire Strikes Back. The first shows the clock wipe; the second, the diagonal wipe (pay no attention to the broken blocks at the start of the second clip—that's a technical glitch, not part of the film).


As the name implies, in the basic cutaway, the filmmaker is moving from the action to something else, and then coming back to the action. Cutaways are used to edit out boring shots (like people driving to their destination—why not see what the character is seeing or even thinking sometimes?) or add action to a sequence by changing the pace of the footage. My favorite use of the cutaway is in Family Guy, where the technique is used to insert throwaway gags. Here's a great example:


The L Cut, also called a split edit, is a very cool technique whose name dates back to the old analog film days.

The audio track on a strip of celluloid film runs along the side, near the sprocket holes. In the L Cut transition, the editor traditionally cut the picture frames out of the strip, but left the narrow audio track intact, thus creating an L-shape out of the film. A different camera angle, or scene was then spliced into the spot where the old picture was, so the audio from the old footage was now cut over the new footage.

Of course, with digital editing, one doesn't need to physically cut anything anymore, but the transition is still widely used, and the name has remained the same.

Split edits like these are especially effective in portraying conversations. Imagine how a simple conversation between two people might look if all we ever got was a ping-pong edit back and forth between the two people talking. The L cut allows the viewer to read the emotion on the listener's face, as the dialogue continues over, as we see in this clip from Ferris Bueller's Day Off:


The fade in and fade out usually signal the beginning or end of a scene, especially if the filmmaker is fading to/from black. This is the most common, of course, but fading to white has become trendy, too. The opening title sequence from the HBO series Six Feet Under featured many fades to black and a couple brief fades to white. The very last bit in the sequence fades slowly to white, and is my all-time favorite example of the transition:

LEGO Is Rolling Out Its First Sustainable, Plant-Based Blocks

LEGO produces roughly 19 billion elements each year [PDF], and until recently, most of those bricks, minifigures, and accessories were made using oil. Now, the toy company has announced that it's experimenting with more sustainable production methods for certain items. As Mashable reports, the company will start selling 'botanical' pieces made from real plants this year.

To craft the new type of material, LEGO is sourcing sugarcane from Brazil. The crops are grown on agricultural land rather than former rainforests, and the sourcing has received the stamp of approval from the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance, an organization that encourages corporations to make sustainable, plant-based plastics.

Making LEGO parts from sugarcane results in a softer plastic, so the new method will only be used to make plant pieces like leaves, bushes, and trees for now. The bioplastic botanicals will start appearing in LEGO boxes this year and become standard by the end of 2018.

“The LEGO Group’s decision to pursue sustainably sourced bio-based plastics represents an incredible opportunity to reduce dependence on finite resources," Alix Grabowski, a senior program officer at the World Wildlife Fund, said in a release from LEGO.

Though the switch will reduce the company's carbon footprint, the bioplastic botanicals still only make up of a small fraction of their total product line. LEGO says the change represents one step in its mission to use sustainable materials in core products and packaging by 2030.

[h/t Mashable]


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