Between Romy Schneider and France, it’s a great love story. A leading face of cinema, the actress from Austria has conquered the hearts of the French public with her beauty and her disarming charm. From her dazzling blue eyes to her elegance, she still commands the admiration of many fans across several generations today.
Like those who grew up with Sissi during their youth, in the mid-1950s. “I watched as a family with my sisters and my aunts”, remembers Yolande for Planet. A fan of Ernst Marischka’s mythical saga, our reader and retiree assures us that she has “seen the three films, perhaps more than ten times on television”. Others passed on their passion for the beautiful Empress to their children. “I was rocked by Romy Schneider’s films by my mother,” says Marine, a 25-year-old project manager, admitting that she “always admired this woman’s professional career”.
Since this role of empress “facing her destiny”, Romy Schneider’s career has taken off in France and the public remains mostly attached to this character. “When you talk to someone about Romy Schneider, they think directly of Empress Sissi. And everyone has seen at least one of his films,” Marine assumes. For journalist and author Henry-Jean Servat, “Romy Schneider was an actress who started with smashing success, making her a world star who marked millions of people”.
A popularity that does not weaken on the screen as with each of its broadcasts, bringing together nearly a million followers in January 2019 on TMC, according to Médiamétrie relayed by Puremedias. Three years later, the rebroadcast of Sissi facing her destiny captivated 846,000 people in front of their screens. A cult role adapted several times in fiction, played by different actresses, such as Dominique Davenport, in the 2022 version broadcast on TF1. But, the fans of the first hour will assure that she does not come close to the heroine embodied 67 years earlier by the famous Romy Schneider.
“I had become national property”, said in particular the daughter of actors Magda Schneider and Wolf Albach-Retty, quoted in the exhibition dedicated to her at the Cinémathèque de Paris. Face of Austria and German cinema, she managed to make a name for herself in France, thanks to several encounters that marked her career.
After the revelation Sissi in the eyes of the whole world, Romy Schneider pursues roles in the cinema and confirms her notoriety in the skin of Christine (1958) where she gives the reply to the young beginner Alain Delon. From their first meeting to the success of the duo on the screen, they formed a legendary couple that capsized hearts. “He was his great love of youth”, notes the journalist Henry-Jean Servat, author of several books devoted to the renowned actress.
An intense life that also fascinated Marine during her visit to the Cinémathèque de Paris, with Planet, on April 24th. Wandering through the heart of this retrospective, between the images and video clips, without forgetting the personal archives, where period costumes, his two Césars and personal handwritten letters mingle, we quickly realize the incredible career of the ‘actress. “I find that each of his films is somewhat inspired by his romantic relationships with directors and actors like Alain Delon, for example,” explains the young blonde woman.
His most memorable Romy Schneider film? The swimming pool (1969), obviously where the two actors meet to form a couple, six years after their separation, and which she owes to Alain Delon by her own admission. “I’m a fan of the scenario, the holiday side with friends, then the couple in love”, assures us Marine over the visit. “We really see the love there may have been between Alain Delon and Romy Schneider, it’s really felt in this film. It’s a love film with a capital A”. According to the young woman, we find through this great role several aspects of her character, namely the side “fragile girl, then child woman and finally the sensual woman who enjoys life”.
But, as time goes by, Romy Schneider will also bring to the screen scandalous and dark roles. Among her notable films where the heroine meets a tragic fate, Marine was surprised by La Mort en direct and La Banquière, of which she watched a few excerpts. “It’s really the femme fatale side who has quite strong positions capable of killing someone. Which proves that she can adapt to any role”. For our reader Yolande, it was an anecdote from her latest film La passere de sans-souci that caught our attention. “There is a scene in court with the lawyers and one of those who was at the bar is an extra that I knew personally. His firm had been asked to intervene in the film”.
Between the secrets and anecdotes about her career, Romy Schneider is still today a myth that fascinates fans, in France and abroad. As the journalist and curator of the retrospective Clémentine Deroudille explains, Sarah Biasini’s mother “remains forever the embodiment of the modern woman, free, fulfilled, affirming her sensuality, living with passion through the films she has turned”, excerpt from the press release of the exhibition. For Henry-Jean Servat, “she completely inhabits her characters. She plays every second as if her life depended on it”. In parallel to her career, the private life of the actress also arouses a lot of fascination…
Forty years after his death, Romy Schneider still remains a glamorous icon who has never ceased to impress the public. “She was very pretty, she presented well and she was very majestic in her films”, testifies Yolande to Planet. Elegant in the incredible empress dress, the Franco-German star played on the card of sensuality in a bikini. “She was a radiant woman on screen. A sunny and luminous side, which can also play with the femme fatale side”, observes Marine, devoting a cult to her sumptuous outfits in La Piscine. “At that time, she was also the only one who dared to appear naked on screen. She advocated this freedom to be sensual and the beauty of the female body”.
It was during the filming of La Piscine with Alain Delon that the two stars shared time in Saint-Tropez, in the company of Brigitte Bardot, at the end of the 1960s. “In the evening, he brought Romy back from filming at La Madrague”, says journalist Henry-Jean Servat. An idyllic setting that the ex-fiancée of Alain Delon knows well according to the author who slips us some parts of his private life. “She lived in Saint-Tropez, she had a house built there, her daughter was born in the Gassin clinic”.
In tribute to the anniversary of Romy Schneider’s death, the writer and former columnist in Télématin chose to return to his friendship with Brigitte Bardot by dedicating an exhibition to them under the Saint-Tropez sun. The opportunity to discover its iconic stars between the sixties and seventies, more accomplices than ever sunbathing at La Madrague, on the beach or by boat, in photos transmitted by Alain Delon.
“We are going to show the places of Saint-Tropez that she frequented”, reveals the author and journalist, promising “a sunny, truant and warm exhibition”, for all the tourists expected this summer at the villa Jean Despas at 3 August to September 18, on the Côte d’Azur.
To re-read our first episodes: Romy Schneider: investigation of a child star who became a cinema icon.