Friday, February 04, 2011

How very strange...

Two actresses whose two landmark films caused a riot of censorship and media 'outrage' have died within a day of each other.
Lena Nyman, who died today, was a 23 year-old actress when she played the lead in Vilgot Sjoman's I AM CURIOUS (YELLOW) and it's sequel the following year I AM CURIOUS (BLUE). The pseudo-documentaries were the sensation of the year with it's frank sexuality and nude scenes. I suspect most of the media outrage was - ahem, stoked - by people who never saw it and the film has ebbed away from the collective memory with maybe just the name retaining a whiff of controversy.

Nyman continued to work steadily in Sweden including a featured role as Liv Ullmann's mentally-retarded sister who is a silent witness to her sister's coruscating night time fight with their mother (Ingrid Bergman) in Ingmar Bergman's AUTUMN SONATA. I AM CURIOUS (YELLOW) could get away with the media outrage as it was a foreign film with a cast of unknowns but what if a sexually explicit film starred a Hollywood superstar?Maria Schneider, who died yesterday, was the young French actress chosen to star opposite Marlon Brando in Bernardo Bertolucci's LAST TANGO IN PARIS - cue the media and censorship shitstorm! Bertolucci and Brando of course sailed on regardless through the controversy but Schneider, as is usually the case it seems, was the one who seemed to be scarred by the experience.

After another media brouhaha at her announcement of being bisexual, she had another bite of big-screen fame in Michelangelo Antonioni's THE PASSENGER with Jack Nicholson but after that, although film offers kept coming in, she had a series of mental breakdowns allied to drug abuse and suicide attempts. She managed to kick her habit and continue working but she was always dogged by LAST TANGO.

Oddly enough she was the illegitimate daughter of the French actor Daniel GĂ©lin - a distant figure in her life - who had his own battles with drugs and depression.

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