Sophia Loren: “I was not, I AM!”

The Italian actress is in the spotlight tonight on Arte.

The 7th channel devotes its evening to Sophia Lorenby first proposing La Ciociara – The Barefoot Peasant Womanthen the documentary on his career concocted by Julia Bracher in 2018. Sophia Loren, a special destiny East already visible on Arte.TV for free, and it will be available until September.

At the end of 2020, on the occasion of the release on Netflix of The life ahead, First had planned a career interview with the now 88-year-old actress. Sophia Loren was to return to her landmark films, but the interview did not go quite as planned… We share it below, to wait until her special evening.

Marceau Films

Article published in Première n° 512 (with David Fincher on the cover).

At 86, Sophia Loren, one of the greatest living film legends, returns to the camera of her son Edoardo Ponti to The life ahead, based on the novel by Romain Gary. Always mind-bogglingly powerful on screen, “the Loren” even accepts interviews.

She reframed us every time we used the imperfect or the past tense in one of our questions. The audience is telephone, the extraordinary tone of naturalness, charm and relaxation. “Well yes, I laugh, and why not? You will hear me laugh all the time, except when the questions no longer please me. Ah ah ah ah ! » And here she is laughing. From the other end of the line, a piece of cinematographic legend cascades down to us. It begins well.

We kind of forgot about Sophia Loren. Undoubtedly because it lacks the very great consecrated authors, those who made Cannes and that Cannes made. No Fellini for her, no Visconti, Antonioni, Rossellini or Pasolini, the major quintet, the one we learn at school and that we go back to again and again in repertoire rooms. Maybe she was too good for them… Her most famous film remains A special day (1977), a marvelous masterpiece by Ettore Scola, the meeting between a housewife and her homosexual neighbor in a Roman building, one day in 1938 when Mussolini received Hitler in Rome. A day of talking, getting to know and understanding each other, hanging the sheets on the clothes racks on the roof, while History, the great one, is on the move, and time is running out. It was the last time that Sophia Loren shared the spotlight with her favorite sidekick, Mastroianni. Two years later, she would be retired, or almost, a few appearances here and there, TV movies, a setting sun.

The Life Ahead on Netflix

We have somewhat forgotten the Loren, despite her legendary duet with Marcello as well as her artistic friendship with Vittorio De Sica, spanning more than
twenty years, partner on the screen (in the delicious The Sign of Venusone of the first Dino Risi, the irresistible Too bad you’re a bitch by Alessandro Blasetti) and his muse/lethal weapon in seven of his productions, in particular the staggering The Barefoot Peasant Woman (La Ciociara), where she endures everything to protect her 15-year-old daughter, traveling through the Italian countryside trying to escape the furious German army and the exactions of the Allied battalions, released like hungry beasts in a country they no longer know he is friend or foe. The film, incredible in violence, sexual cruelty and stylistic power, earned her a prize at Cannes in 1961 (all the same) and an Oscar for best actress in 1962. She was the first (and for a long time the only) to to have won in a non-Anglophone role.

Of course, there remains the memory of the eyes and the smile, disproportionate, which each take up half of the face, like its forms which never cease to be “generous”. In short, he remains the Diva, one of the most devastating physical presences that cinema has ever known, but we tend to overlook the actress, her power of embodiment, her machine-gun delivery in Neapolitan dialect, her staggering chest , his invectives, his pride, his high chin and his stiff neck, his energy “anna magnanian”carrying the camera in its wake, as only the great burlesques or actors of action cinema are theoretically supposed to do.

Sophia Loren: "I was not, I AM!"

Italian Golden Age
In The life aheadshe plays a survivor of the death camps, who lodges the kids in her home “born crooked” of prostitute mothers, like her in her youth. The film was adapted from Romain Gary by his son Edoardo, who bears the name of the man of his life, Carlo Ponti, a name that takes us back to the Italian golden age, of which Sophia Loren will have been one queens, triumphing in its two most popular currents: pink neo-realism (optimistic, enchanting/enchanting social films, “capra-ized”) and Italian comedy, which didn’t really need to be funny to be called that, just to look like life and tell about its country.

When she stops turning as she breathes, just before the start of the 80s, Sophia Loren is 45 years old. She is at the top, but Italian cinema itself seems incapable of climbing up to her. So she slowly fades away. Eight films in all since 1979, as many as during the year 1954 alone. An assumed choice? She pretends to answer: “I spent my whole life in front of the cameras, I never “stopped” consciously. Simply, sometimes, I dedicated myself to my family, my children, then my children’s children, and the years passed. My husband was gone [il est mort en 2007]. Maybe I missed the cinema, but I didn’t realize it. » Would she have returned if the project had not been carried out by her own son? “It is above all a magnificent story, in which I had the feeling of finding echoes of my life, an unexpected gift that Edoardo gave me. There’s a great sense of security playing in front of him, because he knows me, he knows what I’m thinking, he knows when I don’t agree, even if I refrain from embarrassing him in front of everyone. team, as the urge took me a few times…”

At the time, in the 1950s and 1960s, when she was shooting up to ten films a year, roles as pilferer, prostitute, unmarried mother, fishmonger or leading woman, did she feel embody a sex symbol? Did she see herself as a feminist figure? Did she have the ambition to… There she cuts us off, finished laughing. “Do you realize how many times you say “was”, “had”, “did” in your questions, one after the other? It’s incredible, that. Take it for granted: I was not, I AM! » In her son’s film, indeed, she is. The same as always, physical bulldozer, chatterbox, irresistible life force. Phew, she laughs again. The promo interview can end smoothly, the career interview will not take place. Queen Loren led it with a bang, with a stick, systematically refusing to set off on the paths of memory to laugh only at the present – ​​and perhaps at the future. The life ahead.

The Gold of Naples, a testimony of Neapolitan life by Vittorio de Sica

We wish to thank the writer of this write-up for this amazing material

Sophia Loren: “I was not, I AM!”