Honoring The First Lady Of World Cinema

When the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences honored Sophia Loren on May 4th, 2011 with a special night devoted to her life and career, it was the third recognition by the Academy of her talent and legend. It has been fifty years since her 1961 Oscar winning performance in Two Women and she continues to be an important figure in the golden age of both Hollywood and Italian Cinema.

As she approaches her seventy seventh birthday on September 20th, this was the perfect time to honor the actress once more, not with another statuette, none are necessary; her stature has gone beyond myth and legend. Sofia’s life has been nothing less then a fairy tale come true and celebrating it is not just about her beauty and talent, its also about the way she explains her views on life that elevates her to a philosopher. Her ideas are simple: live with passion, honesty, humility and a sense of humor.

Her first Oscar in 1961 was for Best Actress for a stunning performance in La Ciociara. The cinematic adaptation was directed by Victorio di Sica and based on the the book written by Alberto Moravia (1907 -1990). His novels explored social alienation, contemporary sexual values and existentialism. The production was filmed in Italian and subtitled in other languages. It centers on a woman in her early fifties who struggles to protect her daughter from the horrors of war. Sofia was twenty five at the time and lacked confidence she could portray a women twice her age, but di Sica  believed she could do it and convinced her to trust him and play Cesira, a middle aged woman with a teenage daughter.

Her experiences in Italy during World War ll and her relationship with di Sica who she described as a great teacher motivated her to try. “He gave me roles that were appropriate to my temperament  and brought things out I never knew I had. He would just look at me and I knew what he wanted.”

Her spellbinding portrayal in Two Women was hailed as one of best performances captured on film and established her as a dramatic actress with great authenticity. The brutality of war was never more clear then when both mother and daughter were raped by Mussolini’s soldiers. Its unfortunate that most copies of La Ciociara are so faded with a warped score, that the Academy would do well to restore the film and preserve it for future generations.

Her second Oscar was an honorary award bestowed to her by the Academy and presented by Gregory Peck in 1991 for being one of the treasures of world cinema. Not only were her Italian films  being honored but  her American pictures as well. Some of them featured many of Hollywood’s  most prominent leading men and directors.

Her philosophy shines not only in many of her roles, but also the interviews she has given over the years. They are incredibly witty and cover a wide range of subjects that reveal the simplicity of an old soul with much to teach.

In 1999 Sofia  was asked about aging. Her response was,  “ What can you do, time goes by for everyone, You are who you are,  and  you have to look the best you can , if you can, and then go on with life “

On love and  her relationship with Cary Grant, she said, “I was twenty two, and to see Cary Grant attracted to me the way he was, I fell a little bit for it, just a little, but it was worth it.”

When asked about her career, she responded, “ My career has been everything I was dreaming of and so much more, and probably much more then I deserved. i have no regrets about things I wished for but didn’t get, it would be a mortal sin, such a small thing, it would not be worth mentioning. My life has been like a fairy tale, really.”

The public has no misconceptions about Sofia because her candidness and  insights ring with clarity.  She has a rare gift  to convey her philosophy of life, reflecting what she has learned on her journey, both good and difficult. This is a legacy worth celebrating and a footnote in the life of one of the most fascinating women of the Twentieth Century.

Sophia Loren Quotes

Watch Sophia Loren in La Ciociara (Two Women)