Alain Delon turns 85: an icon of masculinity besieged by a past with lights and shadows

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Secluded, after a stroke he suffered a year ago, the actor is the emblem of an era of cinema and a symbol that is torn between praise and criticism.

Alain Delon, the man who radiated an insolent beauty that attracted viewers, directors and women -many women- from the almost 100 films in which they participated, this Sunday, November 8 turns 85.

But far from those times of lights and glamor, he does it away from the spotlight and in the middle of a media silence that breaks in a timely manner on social networks, while dark clouds of his past haunt his memory.

The last public appearance of the actor dates back to May 2019, at the Cannes Film Festival, a contest in which he had presented in competition El gatopardo (The Leopard) (1963), New wave (1990) o The Return of Casanova (Le retour de Casanova) (1992), but where his only award was that Palme d’Or of Honor for his career.

His reception at that time brought out the different edges of the person and the character, so revered by the seventh art as criticized by feminist associations due to statements and behaviors labeled homophobic and misogynistic.

“No one is obliged to agree with me, but there are one thing in the world I’m sure and proud of, one thing only, and it’s my career, “he said when he received that recognition that his daughter Anouchka gave him, amid ovations.

Just three months before, the publication of the book Of the race of lords (De la race des seigneurs), written by his son Alain Fabien, revealed the darkest side of the star. There, the 26-year-old actor and model also accused his father of “macho, xenophobic, violent, gun collector, fetishist, “and pointed him out as someone”ready to humiliate his children and numerous women with cold ferocity. “

But Alain Jr.’s shots weren’t just aimed in his father’s direction; In the text, he also accuses his mother, the Dutch model, presenter and journalist Rosalie Van Breeme, of having eloped with her new lover and future husband, and of having abandoned him with his father. in an apartment in Rome, surrounded by drug addicts.

It was not the first time that the French film star of the ’60s and’ 70s had to face the darts of his son. “I am horrified with the statements of my son. I fear that he is in a pathetic situation and I would not be surprised if he has charged money for making such statements,” he had declared the first time that his heir had publicly pointed out.

In Cannes, where Delón was seen for the last time, just three months before a stroke took him away from public exposure, is where his legend actually began. He went there for the first time in 1956, invited by one of his many conquests, and although he had not yet shot a movie his physique and impudence They soon made it known and made it easier for him to leave that edition with a good contact list.

“If he hadn’t been an actor he would be dead. Cinema was my destiny“, recognized in 2017 in the magazine Paris Match the interpreter, born in Sceaux, on the outskirts of the French capital and within the an unstructured family that made him end up in the hands of some Foster parents.

He embraced the profession in a self-taught way at the express request of his first director, Yves Allégret, who in 1957, with When the woman gets involved, gave him a piece of advice that became his mantra: “Be you, don’t act.”

The list of top filmmakers with whom he subsequently worked makes Delon not only an icon of French cinema of the 1960s and ’70s, but one of the great emblems of international cinematography.

The consecration came to him in 1960 by the hand of Luchino Visconti with Rocco y sus hermanos (Rocco and his brothers), but in his filmography titles such as The swimming pool (1969), by Jacques Deray, or, in that same year, The Clan of Sicilians (Le clan des siciliens), by Henri Verneuil.

“Were the women who have loved me the ones that made me get into this profession and the ones that fought for me “, the actor recalled in Cannes. His blue eyes, his elegantly unprejudiced style, his body sculpted in an exact point where excessive care does not conspire against his naturalness , turned the actor into a male sexuality icon.

In the biography he published in 2011, The women of my lifeIt was Brigitte Bardot herself who described it without mincing words. “Alain Delon, my friend, is a beast, one of those precious animals and indomitable in the process of extinction “, wrote the actress and defender of the rights, precisely, of animals.

Bardot did not fall short, when it came to praising Delon’s kindness. “You are the living symbol of the masterpiece that France has produced during that century that we are going through together,” he wrote on the occasion of his 80th birthday in a handwritten message sent to the AFP news agency.

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