About The Evergreen Sophia

On September 20th, Sofia Costanza Brigida Villani Scicolone or better known as Sophia Loren had her 88th birthday. Senior entertainment journalist Ranjan Das Gupta writes about the fascinating career of the legendary Italian actress

Sophia Loren was speaking to Richard Burton while completing shooting for D’Sica’s, Voyage. She asked the iconic actor whether her performance as Adriana in the film could match Burton’s Caesar as he delivered a flawless performance. To this, the legend replied in the positive.

No doubt Voyage remains a histrionic testimony of both its actors. Both were paired by director Alan Bridge the same year, 1974, in a remake of David Lean’s & 946 classic, Brief Encounters. In totality, the second version of Brief Encounters could not come near the original, yet the performances of the male and female protagonists won critical acclaim.

Sophia Lauren was christened Evergreen Sophia internationally. They were classic Katherine Hepburn, inimitable Ingrid Bergman, evergreen Sophia Loren, unpredictable Audrey Hepburn, fluid Ava Gardner and paragon of beauty Elizabeth Taylor. They ruled Hollywood like real queens for three decades, the 50s, 60s and 70s.

It was not a cakewalk for the Mediterranean beauty Sophia Loren in Hollywood. Making her mark in Italian cinema she conquered the dream world of films with sheer dint of merit, hard work and sacrifices. As she said to her close acquaintances, she was afraid of loneliness. A feeling of being alone in a world which was glittering from the outside, dark from within. Legendary producer Carto Ponti whom she wed was her true mentor. It helped her to jump from one cliff to another without falling.

A natural and spontaneous actress, Sophia Loren was not methodical like Ingrid Bergman or effortless like Audrey Hepburn. She was versatile and her most acclaimed performance was in Two Women for which she won an Oscar. During the scene she was raped by Italian Soldiers, Sophia Loren used five facial veins to the hilt. Then her cities of anger and frustration were canned in three takes.

Vittorio De Sica was Sophia Loren’s histrionic mentor. She extracted the best out of her in Two Women. In Sunflower in 1971, Vittorio De Sica coaxed Sophia Loren to change her makeup five times. She perfected the art of emoting sans glycerine.

Sophia Loren was equally good with emotions and comedy. In The Millionaires, she matched subtle comics with the master series comedian Peter Sellers so well that it never looked like both were acting. Her crooning abilities are intentionally known. She mastered the arts of soprano and tenure while singing. Maurice Jan and Nana Muscuri admired her as a singer and Peter Sellers even proposed to her which she politely refused.

Her favorite actors are Marcelo Masterioni, Richard Burton, Clark Gable and Marlon Brando. In Francesco Rosi’s, More Than A Miracle, Sophia Loren used special three kinds of modulation to react to the questioning looks of Omar Sharif. In House Boat, she added serenity to her romance with Cary Grant with a controlled performance. No one could equal her in love scenes according to Meryl Streep. For the 1972 classic White Rose, she modeled herself along the lines of Florence Nightingale.

In her personal life, Sophia Loren is an understanding homemaker and a caring mother. She never lets work affairs disturb her family. Her affection and strict attitude when needed make her children feel proud. Five years ago the overwhelming ovation she received at Cannes proved beyond doubt she is Evergreen Sophia.

Ranjan Das Gupta

is a Kolkata-based independent journalist. He has been doing freelance work for more than 3 decades and writes on arts & culture, cinema, politics, healthcare and education

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