Marina Vlady

« I am not the Princess of Cleves! »




She selected the films to introduce at the Lumière festival, attesting to a rich and audacious career.

On the telephone, her voice is unmistakable: clear and a little melodic, with a smile on the other end of the (cordless) line. Marina Vlady has always been an adventurer - in the cinema and theater, as well as in her personal life, which brought her from Africa to the USSR well before the fall of the Soviet regime. She is the youngest daughter of a family of Russians who emigrated before the Revolution, the Poliakoffs. Two of her sisters, Odile Versois and Hélène Vallier were also actresses, which allowed them to perform Chekhov‘s Three Sisters together on stage. The career of Marina Vlady is at once prodigious, prolifically rich (nearly a hundred films) and mysterious: there are the essentials, Godard, Welles, and the Princess of Cleves, the Jean Delannoy version, which exalted her beauty. There are also rarer works, "orphan films," which are sometimes the apogees of less celebrated filmmakers. "It’s the story of my career; I always favored scripts and roles, except when I was really in need of money! The rare films she has chosen for this Lyon tribute bear witness to this. "I am happy to be invited to the Lumière festival. In general, they tell me, ‘This movie has been restored, can you come introduce it?’ In Lyon, I chose the films I wanted to show.”
Below, she elaborates on her choices.

Elles-deux-Ok_ketten_01_c_Szovari_GyulaMarina Vlady in The Two of Them by Marta Meszaros

Before the Deluge
, by André Cayatte

This was my first major French role after doing ten films in Italy. I began acting when I was ten years old in Italy. I lived there until I was 17 and married Robert Hossein. One of my sisters and my mother were with me. I had first roles, like Days of Love, with Mastroianni, a very beautiful film. I was a tall teenager: at age thirteen, I was 1m70 (5’6”) so physically, I was already a young woman. One of my first roles in Italy was that of a young mother, even though I had no idea what sex or motherhood was! My memory of Cayatte? An eagle. He resembled an eagle with his very piercing eyes. He was very authoritarian, but he loved us very much; we were his “little ones.” For my first big role in French, I had a lot of trouble. In Italy, there was no direct sound, so I could stammer my lines, whereas in France, my voice had to be heard. The sound engineer had a stick and tapped me on the bum so I’d speak louder!

The Conjugal Bed, by Marco Ferreri

A magnificent film - funny, delusional and anti-clerical! Marco Ferreri was a charming man, a friend of mine with whom I immediately got along famously with. I remember the time when, impromptu, after shooting on the beach of Ostia, he had undressed and jumped into the sea. I followed him! He told me that he was an attack diver of fascist Italy. Him, the anarchist! The film earned me the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1963. It was completely unexpected. I was told the day before; I fell off my chair and quickly slipped on a little black dress!

LIT-CONJUGAL-artMarina Vlady in Le Lit conjugal de Marco Ferreri

Lika: Chekhov’s Love / Subject for a Short Story
, by Sergueï Youtkevitch

This means a great deal to me. A film on Chekhov, my favorite author! In Russian! I was a star in Russia since the success of The Sorceress in 1956, a beautiful film based on a story by Kuprin. The filming lasted almost a year and a half, because we respected the rhythm of the seasons. I had a suite in a hotel, and I welcomed all the important creators and interesting characters of Moscow. It was during this period that I met Vladimir Vissotski (actor, poet and singer, always on the verge of dissent, a star in the USSR of the 70s). We got married and I lived in the USSR for twelve years.

The Two of Them, by Marta Meszaros

One of my finest roles, very concrete. And Márta Mészáros, unbeknownst to me, had written a little part for Vladi Vissotski so he could join me in Hungary, and we could act together. It was a superb scene: it was snowing, whirling under the big streetlamps of the road. This was the only time we acted together. The Soviet authorities had always prohibited our joint projects. At least this one remains.

Time to Live, by Bernard Paul
Let Joy Reign Supreme, by Bertrand Tavernier

Bertrand Tavernier was the press officer of the social commentary film by Bernard Paul about the working class, which I really like. We finished it during the big protests of May '68, we were allowed to continue because of the subject. It has been released throughout France, with debates. We were a great gang: Bernard Paul, Françoise Arnoul, who was his partner, Michel Cournot. And Bertrand. I think it is the memory of our big feasts, those evenings where we laughed and sang, which gave him the idea of making me play the favorite of the Regent in Let Joy Reign Supreme. He understood what kind of woman I really was; deep down, I am not the Princess of Cleves, I am more the Marquise de Parabère!

QUE-LA-FETE-COMMENCE-artPhilippe Noiret and Marina Vlady in Let Joy Reign Supreme by Bertrand Tavernier




Interviewed by Aurélien Ferenczi

Categories: Lecture Zen