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.

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

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on