Wednesday, February 24, 2010

La passante du Sans-Souci (1982)

La passante du Sans-Souci is Romy Schneider's last movie, before her death on 29 May 1982. Her son David died during the shooting. Knowing the fact, I couldn't help noticing how unhappy both her characters were. [She played 2 roles.] When I saw the note in the beginning of the movie "to David and his father", who both preceded her, it seemed like reading a message beyond the grave. 

Max Baumstein (Michel Piccoli), the owner of a big insurance company in Geneva, is also the founder and leader of Solidarité internationale, an organization who fights against violations of human rights. To the shock of his wife Lina (Romy Schneider) , as well as everybody, he murders the ambassador of Paraguay for France. The trial reveals bit by bit that the ambassador was in France in 1933-1934 and responsible for the death of Michel Wiener(Helmut Griem) and his wife Elsa (Romy Schneider), who had taken care of Max since the death of his father by the S.A.

The most haunting scene, was when a S.A. soldier bangs little Max's foot against a tree. What has he done to deserve such thing, except being a Jewish? A minute before he was walking home happily with his father. Elsa screams from the balcony and runs forwards to save Max, ignoring the fact that she is facing a group of soldiers. This boy is not her son, but her husband's employee's; but perhaps as she and Michel don't have any children, they love Max as their own. I can't help thinking how desperately Elsa wants to save Max, like Romy wanted to save her David. I don't know, though, if the scene was shot after of before the tragedy.

I think not enough screen time with Ruppert von Leggaert (Mathieu Carrière) to make Max hate him. Far as I can remember, Max only has seen the German once, when he accompanies Elsa to the headquarters. Perhaps Max sees him regularly in the Rajah Club. I think Maurice Bouillard (Gérard Klein) has more reason to hate von Leggaert than Max, but perhaps Max hates all Germans because of his father, and like Maurice, Max loves Elsa, because later in his life he marries Lina, who looks very much like Elsa. 

As a remembrance, a plaque is erected on the wall of Le Sans-Souci cafe, for Michel and Elsa Wiener, one of the firsts who fought Hilter.

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