40 years after his death, Alain Delon expected in La Rochelle, "This tribute makes me very happy"

40 years after his death, Alain Delon expected in La Rochelle, “This tribute makes me very happy”

Romy Schneider, still young, is already a myth, who shot with the elite of world cinema, directors Orson Welles, Joseph Losey, Luchino Visconti, René Clément or Otto Preminger, with actors Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, Woody Allen.

This heir to a dynasty of German actors left behind…

Romy Schneider, still young, is already a myth, who shot with the elite of world cinema, directors Orson Welles, Joseph Losey, Luchino Visconti, René Clément or Otto Preminger, with actors Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, Woody Allen.

This heiress of a dynasty of German actors left behind the ingenuous roles of her debut across the Rhine and the unbearable cycle of “Sissi” that stuck to her skin, and still waltzes today with a channel to channel on television screens.

Romy the actress, in the decade of the seventies and the nascent 1980s, played for Deray, Deville, Girod, Chabrol, Zulawski, Granier-Deferre, Miller or Tavernier, to the point of embodying the feminine face of French cinema. Above all, she has become inseparable from Claude Sautet, who gave her, from Hélène en Marie or Rosalie, her most famous roles.

The cruel blows of life

But Romy the woman, she took the harshest blows from things in life: her ex-husband committed suicide, she had to treat a kidney tumor, she is said to be depressed, excessive, smoking too much, maybe be dependent on barbiturates.

More cruel than anything she had ever faced, in 1981, she lost her 14-year-old son, David Meyen, whose father had just died. The teenager is the victim of the most stupid and sad of accidents: on vacation with the grandparents of his little sister Sarah, he finds the wrought iron gate closed, and decides to go back to climb it. During the exercise, he impales himself on the grid.

Atrocious image, which will at least be spared the devastated mother. On the other hand, another image will spread throughout the press of the time: a paparazzi disguised himself as a nurse to go and photograph the dead teenager.

Collapsed before an unfinished letter

Romy will not even survive her child for a year. When her companion at the time, Laurent Pétin, found her, in the early morning of May 29, 1982, it was in front of an unfinished, banal letter, canceling an appointment. A deletion interrupts the mail.

The judge chose to dismiss the case. No autopsy, “out of respect for the myth”.

We are talking about suicide. One wonders: did Romy die of having suffered too much, her heart tired by too intense a life? Did she succumb to drug addiction? Did she choose to leave? We’ll never know. The judge chose to dismiss the case. No autopsy, “out of respect for the myth”. Perhaps to counterbalance the indecency of what was inflicted on her at the death of her son, Romy Schneider dead is left to her mystery, facing her destiny.

The controversy rebounds regularly. In 2018, again, the biopic “Three days in Quiberon” will revive the debate. The film depicts the actress as addicted to alcohol and drugs. False, was indignant then his ex-sister-in-law, who shared his daily life the day before his death. False, also denounces Romy’s daughter, Sarah Biasini, who has become an actress like her mother, whom she resembles so much.

first big love

Forty years after his death, Romy has remained in the hearts and on the screens of the French. Sarah, this year, has reached the age of 44 that her mother will never have.

1958: She is barely 20 years old, he is three years older. First meeting between the young French hopeful and the German ingenue. They are going to shoot “Christine”. And above all to live together a love story that will last beyond their relationship.

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On this anniversary of her death, it is to the one who was her first great love, the one of whom she was also the first great love, that the “Journal du Dimanche” asked to evoke the disappeared. If he did not attend her funeral in June 1982, he indicates that he watched over her. “I took a photo of her dead on her bed, which I keep in my wallet. Romy seems to be sleeping soundly. She is magnificent. I watch it often…”

“I took a photo of her dead on her bed, which I keep in my wallet. I watch it often”

Romy and Alain, it’s quite a story. A history of cinema, but not only. The darling of German cinema and the hunk of French cinema met in 1958. Before Europe invented it, the Franco-German couple par excellence was them. She is barely 20 years old, he is 23, they have to shoot together the remake of an Ophüls film in which Romy’s mother was the star in the interwar period. “Christine” did not mark the history of cinema, but it made Romy, for the first time, a Frenchwoman.

Alain introduced Romy to Visconti.  The Italian director will bring them together on stage, in the Elizabethan play “Too bad she is a p…” in 1961. They pose here with Luchino Visconti and their respective mothers, Magda and Edith.
Alain introduced Romy to Visconti. The Italian director will bring them together on stage, in the Elizabethan play “Too bad she is a p…” in 1961. They pose here with Luchino Visconti and their respective mothers, Magda and Edith.

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Delon and she are “engaged”, that is to say that they live together outside the bonds of marriage, which we avoid highlighting in the well-meaning magazines of the 1950s. Romy emancipates herself from her image of Sissi so wise. Alain introduces the maestro Visconti to Romy, they go on stage together, directed by Luchino himself. This young couple, who make European cinema dream, are filming in France, Germany, Italy… Romy goes to Hollywood.

And then, at the end of 1963, there was a break. Delon leaves her for another. The estrangement will last as long as their relationship lasted. But the love that binds them will live well beyond their couple.

The turning point of “La Piscine”

In 1968, Delon, who at the time of the separation had perhaps not been the most elegant, made up for it by imposing Romy Schneider, then ironed on the German side of her life and career, on the set of “La Piscine by Jacques Deray. It’s her or there won’t be a movie. In doing so, Delon does not yet know that he is opening the doors to Romy for his most prosperous decade in French cinema. Of the four films they have shared, this is the one he finds “the greatest”.

But these are not films that he prefers to remember: “Our best moment was outside of filming, in real life. »

They both entered the cinephile heritage. Romy Schneider is the subject of an exhibition at the Cinémathèque, in Paris, until July 31. The La Rochelle film festival honors Alain Delon from July 1 to 10

Even today, the actor admires the actress. She, who died at 43 in full glory and he, twilight witness at 86 of a vanished world that he evokes with deep melancholy, they both entered the cinephile heritage. Romy Schneider is the subject of a retrospective and an exhibition at the Cinémathèque, in Paris, until July 31.

His daughter Anouchka in La Rochelle

For his part, the actor will be entitled this summer to a tribute from the La Rochelle Film Festival, from July 1 to 10. “This tribute makes me very happy, I am very touched,” admits Delon.

But the hero of “Plein Soleil” hesitates to go to Charente-Maritime. The crowd, the covid which worries him even if he welcomes the prospect of the final clap with philosophy. But if he does not come, he promises to send his daughter, Anouchka, to whom he is so close.

On the same subject

La Rochelle: Alain Delon expected as a real star

La Rochelle: Alain Delon expected as a real star

The interpreter of “Cheetah” and “Samourai”, who has shot nearly 80 films including many masterpieces, accepted the invitation from the La Rochelle Cinema Festival. He will be the big star of this 50th edition which takes place from July 1 to 10, 2022

And perhaps, then, he will go alone to admire on the screens of the Cinémathèque the radiant Romy of his 20s or 30s. In any case, it counts well.

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