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
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions