OBITUARY : Madeleine Sologne

Madeleine Sologne's place among French film stars of the 1940s rests mainly on one film, L'Eternel retour (1943), but it is one of the key films of that troubled decade.

Made under the German occupation (with some Italian money), L'Eternel retour was a fantasy based on the myth of Tristan and Iseult, scripted by Jean Cocteau, which, in the words of the film's director, Jean Delannoy, showed that "during this terrible period when one could die an abominable death, one could also die of love". The film is typical of the strong escapist trend in the cinema of the time which took its roots in history or legend - as did other films, such as Marcel Carn's Les Visiteurs du soir (1942) and Les Enfants du paradis (1943-45) - but paradoxically Sologne's success in it was due to her modern appearance.

Sologne and her co-star Jean Marais came to epitomise the romantic couple, in terms of the legend (love triumphs over all obstacles, including death) and of their contemporary look. Both Sologne's smooth blond hairstyle ( la Veronica Lake) and Marais' patterned sweater, designed by the couturier Marcel Rochas (as were Sologne's clothes), were widely copied. Historians disagree about the character of Nathalie (Sologne); some see her as a vacant cypher; others as an example of the prominent women characters who populated the French cinema of the Occupation and were given scope to express sexual or romantic desire. Worse, for many the highlighted blondness and sculptural good looks of both Sologne and Marais evoked a definitely Aryan ideal (the "bad" woman is played by the dark-haired Junie Astor), a view possibly influenced by the fact that a gala premiere took place in Vichy, with Sologne and Marais attending.

Beyond these important topical factors, Sologne's beauty and stylised performance blended modernity with tragedy, a combination she repeated in the lesser-known but fascinating La Foire aux chimres (1946), directed by Pierre Chenal and co-starring Erich von Stroheim. In a wildly melodramatic reprise of Chaplin's City Lights story of 1931, Sologne plays a blind woman whose disfigured benefactor (von Stroheim) goes mad and kills himself when she recovers her sight and leaves him.

Sologne had taken her name from the area she came from - and near which she died - a large expanse of forests and marshes south of Orlans which, quite aptly for her image in L'Eternel retour, is often associated with mystery and legend. Working originally for a Parisian hat designer, Sologne married a cinematographer and first appeared in the collective Popular Front propaganda film La Vie est nous in 1936; she made no less than 14 films in the following two years (though not in starring roles); notable among which are Jacques Feyder's circus drama Les Gens du voyage (1937), Marcel L'Herbier's lush costume film Adrienne Lecouvreur (1938) and Sacha Guitry's historical extravaganza Remontons les Champs-Elyses (1938).

Though she continued to act sporadically up to 1969, neither La Foire aux chimres, nor the films she made subsequently, ever attained the popular or critical success of L'Eternel retour. Possibly because the power of her mythical character in that film was such that it ironically prevented any follow-up, but more likely because post-war French films went in for the more "earthy" sexuality of Simone Signoret and Martine Carol.

Ginette Vincendeau

Madeleine Vouillon (Madeleine Sologne), actress: born La Ferte-Imbault 1912; died Vierzon 31 March 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee