“Sissi just sticks to me just like oatmeal”, is a famous quote by Romy Schneider. Born Rosemarie Magdelena Albach-Retty in Vienna, she made her acting debut on stage by the side of her mother (like her father an actor too). In 1955 the world fell in love with her, when she played empress-to-be Sissi in the first of three films about the Austrian royal. From that point on, she tried to break away from her saccharine image by taking parts in sombre films like Christine (where she met fiancé Alain Delon), Orson Welles’ The Process, and Visconti’s Ludwig.
Her life was filled with tragedy: she was dumped by Delon, first husband Henry Meyen hanged himself naked in front of his house only a few years after the divorce, and her son David died in a fatal accident. Officially, she died because of cardiac arrest, but rumour has it she commited suicide. Knowing this, I can only see oceans of schmerz in her eyes.
Pursued and abused by the German press for nearly her whole life, Romy Schneider’s relationship to her homeland maybe is mirrored most perfectly in Robert Enrico’s relentless Le Vieux Fusil.
On a lighter note, she sang as well. In what I think is her best movie, Les Choses de la Vie, her melancholic, Hardy-like voice is perfect for La Chanson d’Hélène, a duet with Michel Piccoli. And for Max et les Ferrailleurs, she sang a short a-capella song in German.
Romy Schneider – La Chanson d’Hélène
Romy Schneider – La Lettre de Rosalie
Romy Schneider – Lily et Max
Sinner DC’s hommage to Romy S. features overwhelming sadness as well as an irresistible loop, and Jérôme Boloc’s Romy et Dewaere pairs her with French actor Patrick Dewaere whose life story was similarly tragic.