Romy Schneider: Neither kind nor sweet – FINNISHED!!

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Reviewed on 11/4/2011 | No Reviews

“I don’t know anything about life, but everything about cinema.” That’s how Romy Schneider summed up her life a few years before her death. The Austrian-German actress was one of the great stars of 20th century European cinema but a dark shadow had always overshadowed her tremendous career. Good material for a show.

Heaven for fans

Romy Schneider, 1972 © Eva Sereny/Camerapress/Gamma-Rapho

After the huge success of the Brigitte Bardot exhibition in Boulogne-Billancourt, a close suburb of Paris, the “Musee des Années 30” now pays tribute to the much more discrete Romy Schneider. Archive documents, photos and original posters, reviews, unexpected testimonies, jewels, dresses, private letters, but also souvenirs from her producers, her partners and her fans, scenarios, everything is to be found here, and a lot of things helping to retrace the life and the personality of this very special actress. If you are Romy fan, it will be heaven for you. If you’re not a fan, you’ll be turned into one.

Born in 1938, six months after the Anschluss in Nazi-era Vienna, as Rosemarie Magdalena Albach in an Austrian-German actor family, Romy Schneider started her career very early, at the age of fifteen, at her mother’s side. And very early came fame, with Sissi, the touching and very kitschy saga of the Austrian empress.

Touching and tortured

The exhibition is retracing chronologically the life and career of Romy Schneider showing somehow how she tried to emancipate herself: from the Sissi image, from her German roots, and probably the weight of the Nazi drama. When she was asked to shoot a fourth Sissi movie, she refused and noted in her diary: “I’m neither kind nor sweet”.

Neither kind nor sweet, but sensual and sad, touching and tortured. The photos in this exhibition demonstrate that she constructed her beauty. And that her dark light glowing on the inside made her shine brighter on the outside.

Hit by destiny

Romy Schneider, 1972 © Eva Sereny/Camerapress/Gamma-Rapho

“Rarely an actress has been so so beautiful and touched as many people as she did”, says Jean-Pierre Lavoignat, curator of the exhibition. “Rarely has such a young and famous actress been able to achieve such an incredible career whereas she was always trying to escape her own legend. Rarely has a star been, equally so blessed by god and so touched by destiny. Rarely has a woman has been so bright and tortured. Rarely has a foreigner portrayed France as she did.”

Only a few years after the suicide of her ex-husband, their son, David, died accidentally when climbing the spiked fence at his stepfather’s parents’ home. Romy Schneider died only a year after the accident. Was it suicide? Authorities said she died of cardiac arrest. Maybe a broken heart was also involved.

Sad Romy

A couple of years before her death, Romy wrote a letter to her colleague Simone Signoret saying that she knew nothing about life, but everything about cinema. And she signed it  “yours, Romy” – and then added: “your sad” – triste – “Romy”.

Romy Schneider
Espace Landowski
28, avenue André-Morizet
92 100 Boulogne-Billancourt
Métro: Marcel Sembat  or Boulogne Jean-Jaurès  
From 4th November 2011 to 22nd february 2012
Open every day from 10h – 19h
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