Mata Hari
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"What she did was not really a dance, but she knew how to
undress". (Colette)
Margaretha Zelle was born in
Holland. She married and went to
Java with her husband. They
divorced and she returned to
Europe and went to Paris.
Margaretha adored dancing and
had become entranced with the
exotic sinuous dances of the
javaneese women. Her tall, lithe
body, dark coloring and natural
beauty lent themselves well to her
subterfuge as she appeared clad
only in an assortment of colored
veils and a metal brassiere of her
own creation. She took the
oriental stage name Mata Hari,
meaning "the light of day".
In 1905 Mata Hari's act, a
sinuous and provocative dance of
supplication made her the
inventor of the strip-tease show.
Margaetha was attracted to
military persons, and she slept
with high officers of any of the
european contries. During World
War I these connections made it
easy to accuse this courtisan of
spying.
Margaretha spend about a year in
her death cell. At first she hoped
to live, but during the last 6
month she realized that she would
have to face the firing squad.
In the early morning of October 15, 1917 Margaretha was awakened in her cell and driven to the
place of execution.
Margaretha wanted be die without showing weakness, this should be her last performance. She
stood at the pole wearing no blindfold and only a loose rope around her waist. Her last words to the
soldiers was to aim at her heart, not at her face.
Her body collapsed immediately without further movement, a bullit had found her heart.
A French cavalry sergeant walked up to her and fired a "coup de grace" into her head.
Margaretha was 41 years old. Her performances was about to loose their former appeal, but the
execution gave her a most remarkable sortie.
Margaretha's stage name, Mata Hari, will always remain synonymous with female seduction and
betrayal.
Jeanne Moreau as Mata Hari.