Maya Rylke-Friedman: France as Text 2022


Maya Rylke-Friedman: Izieu As Text 2022

“I Pray Their Souls Find Peace” by Maya Rylke-Friedman of FIU at Izieu on July 10, 2022.

I feel I may not do this justice

Trying to create something to capture genuine shock and horror 

To honor their memories

I did not expect this that day

I had such an emotional reaction at Izieu

To looking out at the beautiful view of mountains

And crying because of how something so beautiful

Can be slaughtered

Beautiful, innocent children

They would learn and play

A peaceful oasis from war

The view from inside the school at Izieu by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0

I think about all that I have not done in my life

All I want to accomplish, to overcome

They did not have the chance to do this 

All ages

Life taken from them

Unable to follow their aspirations

Picture of the children from the museum of Izieu by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0.

I don’t know how they must’ve felt

Did they panic?

Did their bodies go numb with horror?

Did they know what was going to happen to them?

The children were interrogated

Asked where their parents may be

The Nazis wanted them dead

Why were they obsessed with killing Jews?

Why kill anyone for their identity?

It doesn’t hurt us

It was an honor to speak with Claude Bloch

A man who survived the Holocaust as a teenager

We went to Montluc to see how prisoners had been kept during the War

And what it had been before

And what it had become after

Both Monsieur Bloch and the children of Izieu were prisoners there

Adults, teenagers, children

Because they were Jewish

Amongst political prisoners and Resistance fighters

Ten people crowded in one cell

No privacy

No beds

Tortured

Humiliated

Jewish males forced to crowd in a shack in the prison

To separate them from non-Jews

Photo of artwork of showers in a concentration camp in the old Gestapo headquarters which is now a Holocaust museum by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0

Does Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité apply to Jews? 

The French Revolution is in direct opposition to Nazism and Colonialism

Yet, Jews, Resistance Fighters, and later, supporters of Algerian independence

Were held like animals in Montluc

Reflecting solitary in a cell at Montluc

What would I do?

Would I try to fight?

Try to escape?

Do I accept my fate?

In the prison

There was a plaque for a girl who died 

Who was the same age as me

Nineteen

Régine Gattegno

She was in the French Resistance and Jewish

She was deported to Sobibor

And murdered upon arrival

Photo of a plaque commemerating Régine Gattegno by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0

Sometimes I think about whether I would survive

And I don’t think I would

Would I have the strength and courage they had?

I don’t know

I will never know

But that does nothing

No one should have to endure these horrors 

Picture of a portrait of Claudine Halaunbrenner who died when she was five years old by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0

Innocent children

Afraid all of the time

Put in the murderous clutches of Nazis

It makes me sick

The names of the children and teachers who the Nazis took from Izieu by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0.

It’s not just them

There are so many more heartwrenching stories 

I don’t know how much more my heart can take

This was not the first genocide, and it has not been the last. 

I want to discuss these tragedies also, but it doesn’t seem people in power genuinely care

Manipulating what and how we are taught history

Intentionally glorifying or glossing over acts of genocide

The forgotten Tequesta

Slavery

The Rohingya

The Tutsis

I am sorry for these children

I am sorry for those who died and suffered

For I get to live my life protected and privileged

I feel guilty living happily, for eating, for complaining, for laughing, for enjoying worldly pleasures

Though it is precisely this that Monsieur Bloch wants us to do, as long as we remember to battle extremism

And fight for our peace

Photo of Claude Bloch’s arm and tattoo from the Holocaust by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0.

It is of utmost importance to protect peace

We can have hatred for those that cause unnecessary suffering

But we should not do the same

An eye for an eye and the world goes blind

Pain is a step toward recovery

But there is so much pain

I don’t pray for me to have peace

I pray for them to have peace 

For their souls to have peace 

I want to protect peace

We must protect peace


Maya Rylke-Friedman: Lyon As Text 2022

“Lyon: Resilience During Persecution” by Maya Rylke-Friedman of FIU at Lyon on July 8, 2022.

After writing about Izieu for hours, trying to make it a meaningful and respectful reflection, I find writing about Lyon difficult. Though we did so much in Lyon, it feels strange to write about something that has nothing to do with the Holocaust because that was a major focus of this trip. Our trip to Lyon was physically and emotionally intense, and I would want to write about something happier, but I don’t feel that it would be right.

Lyon was a significant city during World War II. It was the hub for the Resistance against Nazism. Nazis took over Montluc prison and incarcerated Jews, political opposition, and Resistance fighters.

Laurent Vernay is the owner of Hôtel des Célestins, where we stayed while in Lyon. His mother was Denise Vernay, a Resistance fighter who the Nazis imprisoned in Montluc, tortured, and sent to Mauthausen (Jewish Original Media LLC, 2021). His aunt was Simone Veil, a survivor of the Holocaust, former president of the European Parliament, Health Minister, and an influential advocate for women’s bodily autonomy. It was a privilege to get to speak with Laurent personally.

Photo of a plaque of Denise Vernay-Jacob’s story in a Montluc cell by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0.

Though Lyon is beautiful and walkable, it has ugly history beneath the surface. Near where we were staying, there is a memorial to individuals Nazis shot in the street and left there to then eat food in an adjacent cafe after.

Claude Bloch is a French man who survived the Holocaust as a teenager. Nazis murdered his grandfather, then later his mother. He witnessed so much death and endured exhaustion and starvation. Yet, he said he never considered the possibility of dying. He was determined to live.

Photo of artwork of female prisoners doing hard labor in a concentration camp by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0.

Claude Bloch grew up in Lyon. Monsieur Bloch went to school in Lyon. The Nazis took him to Auschwitz from Lyon. He came back to Lyon after the war. He got married and had children in Lyon. He lives there now in the same apartment the Nazis confiscated from his grandmother. He has had such a difficult life, and though he did not have much of a choice, he stayed in Lyon. At age 93, he continues to walk all over Lyon.

I am grateful that I had the opportunity to have dinner with Monsieur Bloch. My generation is going to be the last to speak firsthand with survivors of the Holocaust, which added to how meaningful this was for me. I cannot put into words how thankful I feel that I was able to listen to Monsieur Bloch’s story and speak with him directly.

Claude Bloch recounts his experience during the Holocaust sitting next to John Bailly by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0.

For everything that Monsieur Bloch has been through, he is such a sweet and calm person. I felt comfortable asking him questions about the Holocaust because he believes it is his mission to tell his story so this does not happen again.

I asked Monsieur Bloch how he felt about the future and that I am scared for mine. With far-right Christianity taking over in America and climate change going unaddressed, I am frightened that my generation will suffer and be unable to raise children in such a world. He responded that he is scared too. He emphasized we must stand up to extremism.

It broke my heart to see him walk away, alone. He has experienced so much hardship and loss. His wife died in 2016, and his children live far away. No one deserves to be lonely, especially not him.

He said he found joy after the war through his family and creating the next generation. Being surrounded by people you love is necessary for healing and happiness. But, he is a survivor, and he has strength I cannot even imagine.

References

Jewish Original Media LLC. (2021, March 7). Passing of Denise Vernay-Jacob, 2013. Jewish Originals; Jewish Originals. https://www.jewishoriginal.com/post/passing-of-denise-vernay-jacob-2013


Maya Rylke-Friedman: Paris as Text 2022

“Freedom From Religion” by Maya Rylke-Friedman of FIU in Paris July 4, 2022.

Candle offerings lit under a statue of Jesus Christ in Église Saint-Sulpice by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0.

Oppression

The eye of God is upon you

The church watching your every move

A rigid power structure

With God at the top 

With suffering on the bottom

Not from the spiritual being, whatever that may be

But from man

Those that twist it, pervert it

Because of their beliefs

That life is meaningless 

The world is inherently sinful 

Eternal life is what matters

This fucks it up for the rest of us

With no care for what happens here on Earth 

Climate change, war, violence, pestilence, poverty

We all suffer

With threats to accept Jesus 

So that we can go to heaven though our world is burning

Haunting images of Jesus

For us to see his suffering

For us to be compelled to convert

What of the suffering Christians have caused?

I cry for them

I cry for my ancestors 

I cry for the child I may never have

For why would I bring them into such a world?

A disgusting imposition of Christianity on all of us

I am hurt

I didn’t ask for this

I am tired of fighting

Photo of a poster depicting Russia and American Christianity violating a woman’s body by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0.

Before the French Revolution, French monarchs and Christian churches reinforced each other’s power. French monarchs would use Christianity to legitimize their rule, declaring that God had appointed them, and the clergy would use the monarchy to maintain their influence. In 250 AD, Saint-Denis, a French Bishop, was martyred on Montmartre, and he is said to have picked up his head and walked to the Basilique Cathédrale de Saint-Denis, where he then died. The Basilique Cathédrale de Saint-Denis is the final resting place for French royalty (Basilique Cathédrale de Saint-Denis, 2022). 

Picture of the ceiling in Sacré-Cœur which gave me an ominous feeling by Maya Rylke-Friedman CC by 4.0.

King Louis IX consecrated Sainte-Chapelle in 1248, which was built in his medieval Palais de la Cité (Sainte-Chapelle de Paris, 2022). Sainte-Chappelle is known for its gothic architecture, and it is said to have housed Jesus’s crown of thorns (Paris Tourist and Convention Bureau). Louis IX led crusades against Muslims to gain control of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, which later made him a Saint. He is the only French king to have been made a saint (“How France’s King Louis IX Gained Sainthood Explained | Britannica,” 2022). Christians honor crusaders because of the religious significance of the holy lands, but it simultaneously honors those that kill to spread Christianity, which is also seen in the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere with the crusades and deaths of Muslim soldiers glorified in a mosaic. 

A stained glass window in the lower section of Sainte-Chapelle that looks to be structured like an eye by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0.

Revolutionaries fought against the French monarchy and religious oppression, and the French Republic became very secular as a result. About a hundred years later, the French Third Republic oversaw the construction of Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart), a church built atop Montmarte (Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, 2022). It was finished in 1919 and was meant as a reaction to the secularism the French Revolution brought (Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, 2022). 

An angel in front of stained glass in Sacré-Cœur by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0.

I take issue with the imposition of Christianity on others and its history of violence and oppression. I understand spirituality, but I do not understand why many Christians force others to act according to their worldview. This arrogance and “righteousness” has been the justification for oppression, murder, and genocide for nearly two thousand years. Frankly, I am tired of the perversion of Christianity which seeks to attack and impose. It has caused so much pain. Pain towards Jews, Muslims, indigenous groups, and anyone who is not Christian, and I do not see how a truly loving God would want that. There are good, loving Christians that do not justify evil through their religion, and I want Christians to practice their truth. But I also want that for myself and others. Yes, there is beauty in churches and houses of worship, but I find it hard to separate the beauty from the suffering.

References

Basilique cathédrale de Saint-Denis. (2022). Basilique Cathédrale de Saint-Denis. http://www.saint-denis-basilique.fr/en

How France’s King Louis IX gained sainthood explained | Britannica. (2022). In Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/video/154914/Louis-IX-saint-France-Crusades-role

Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau. (2022). Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre – Paris tourist office. En.parisinfo.com. 

Paris Tourist and Convention Bureau. (2022). Sainte-Chapelle – Office de tourisme Paris. http://Www.parisinfo.com. https://www-parisinfo-com.translate.goog/musee-monument-paris/71380/Sainte-Chapelle?_x_tr_sl=fr&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=sc

Sainte-Chapelle de Paris. (2022). Free.fr. http://architecture.relig.free.fr/chapelle_en.htm


Maya Rylke-Friedman: Versailles As Text 2022

“The Loving Sun” by Maya Rylke-Friedman of FIU at Versailles on July 3, 2022.

King Louis XIV portrayed as Apollo/the Sun on the gates of Versailles by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0.

In 1638, the Sun was born. Louis XIV has radiated his magnificence on us ever since he entered this world. As a child, he suffered a great tragedy when his people threatened his reign and life during the Fronde uprising, where he was forced to pretend to be asleep to save himself. He vowed never to let this happen again as long as he was alive.

Louis XIV expanded his father’s hunting lodge in Versailles, and in 1682, he desired to keep his nobles under a close eye and brought them to Versailles. The Palace of Versailles then became the center of the French government. 

One night, a young Lady DuBuvoir and her mother stood in the Hall of Mirrors as they expected Louis XIV for the night’s dinner celebration.

“Remember to not look directly at the King, darling. It is a serious offense. You mustn’t jeopardize our place here in court.”

“I know Mamon…”

Off in the distance, they saw the Sun king emanate throughout the room. Louis XIV looked unto one of the nobles in the Hall of Mirrors up and down. He simply shook his head and said “No.”

And the noble completely lost his footing. Instantly groveling to the ground, knowing that his life was over, for how could one come back from the King’s disapproval?

In the Hall of Mirrors, everyone silenced as Louis XIV stood in front of his golden throne and tapped his cup with a golden spoon. 

“Good evening. My noblemen, I wanted to thank you for your dedication to France. I, your country, recognize the good you have done for France by joining me here in Versailles. Now, let us commence our festivities.”

And everybody waited for the King to sit before they did. The violins serenaded the nobles and they danced into the night within the palace walls. 

Later in the evening, Lady DuBuvoir decided to take a stroll in the garden to escape the suffocating atmosphere of the court. She crossed Latona’s fountain, seeing the humans becoming frogs as they spoke ill about Latona and her children, Apollo and Diana. 

Latona’s fountain in the gardens of Versailles by Maya Rylke-Friedman. CC by 4.0.

“What a horror,” she thought.

As she contemplated, a young man took notice of her. 

“Bonsoir, mademoiselle. Are you alright?” He said, putting his hand on her back. She looked back at him, a little startled. 

“Oui, monsieur. I was simply admiring our Highness’s gardens.”

“I hardly believe that. I’m sure you feel it too. The constraints of court. It’s much too annoying to bear.”

“Well… what do you propose we do. There’s a reason the nobles are here. There’s not much we can do.”

“Ah, but I disagree. We shall speak to him in the Hall of Mirrors!”

“What? Are you absolutely mad? That would get you killed!”

“Nonsense. Come with me.”

And he took her hand and ran to the Hall of Mirrors. The King was dancing in the middle of the room, shining unto everyone. The man took to the middle of the hall with Lady DuBuvoir. 

“Everyone, everyone! Please listen here!”

Everyone in the hall looked at them with anxiety, unsure how Louis XIV would react. The man did not care. 

“Everyone, the beautiful Lady DuBuvoir would like to address the court.”

Lady DuBuvoir looked unto the crowd, seeing her mother’s worried and disapproving look. She decided to begin anyway, without care for the consequences. 

“Good evening, everyone, your Highness. I see no enjoyment in the formalities of court. I see a gold-plated palace, a gluttonous display of grandeur and wealth as your people starve. You said, ‘L’Etat c’est moi.’ Tell me then, do you not feel the pain of your people?”

Everybody looked around, shocked, petrified. But the King had an introspective glare upon him. 

Silence filled the room. After a few moments, the King started to speak.

“As your King, I demand respect in court. However, you are correct. L’etat c’est moi. And I must care for the people of France. Guards, bring the peasants in, we have space for them. Let us feed them.”

Surprised, everyone stood in place. After a moment, the Guards set out to find those suffering on the streets. Louis XIV welcomed them into the palace. Noblemen and the King sat alongside the less fortunate and broke bread with them that night in the Hall of Mirrors. The King danced, played games, and laughed with all of his subjects, sharing his luxuries with his people and filling France with love. 

The End.

The above is a short story loosely based on the facts of Louis XIV’s reign. It is an alternate history with fictional characters that would never have realistically happened, but I wanted to imagine an inclusive court at Versailles under Louis XIV because I am fascinated with royal luxury; however, I am saddened by the oppression that came with it. Thus, I wanted to create a story that illustrated an accepting and loving court.

Maya Rylke-Friedman: Normandy As Text 2022

Private First Class Benjamin Garadetsky” by Maya Rylke-Friedman of FIU

Private First Class Benjamin Garadetsky in his army uniform, (Gresik, 2020).

Before The War:

Benjamin Barney Garadetsky was born in Zhytomyr, Russia, now modern-day Ukraine, on April 20, 1914, as Boruch Reigorodeczki (Tercatin, 2020). He immigrated to the United States as a child in October 1921, and he lived in the Bronx, New York. His family fled rising anti-Semitic tensions in their town and changed their names to more “American” sounding ones after arriving (Operation Benjamin | Benjamin Garadetsky, 2015). Garadetsky worked in the manufacturing of miscellaneous products before joining the war effort (Find a Grave, 2018).

During The War:

He enlisted in the U.S Army in February 1941 and served in the U.S Army’s 66th Regiment, 2nd Armored Division, known as “Hell on Wheels” (Operation Benjamin | Benjamin Garadetsky, 2015). Upon enlistment, he registered with the National Jewish Welfare Board (Operation Benjamin | Benjamin Garadetsky, 2015). He was shipped out to North Africa, then Sicily, and joined the Allied forces in Normandy for D-Day (Gresik, 2020).

When, Where, How, and Why of Their Passing:

Garadetsky survived the D-Day invasion of France, but he instantly died during a Luftwaffe bombing (Kampeas, 2022). He died on August 23, 1944, at the age of 30 (Kampeas, 2022). 

Telegram of Private First Class Benjamin Garadetsky’s death, (Gresik, 2020).

What His Sacrifice Means to Me:

Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter visited the Normandy American Cemetary and was surprised to see that there were fewer Stars of David than he expected (Tercatin, 2020). He came to find that in the haste of burial and lack of proper documentation, many Jewish soldiers were buried under crosses. Many Jewish soldiers had also removed their dog tags marked with an “H” for “Hebrew”, to not out themselves as Jews in case the Nazis captured them (Kampeas, 2022). About 2.7% of American soldiers who fought during WWII were Jewish. Out of 10,000 graves, only 149 soldiers were buried under a Jewish star. In 2018, Benjamin Garadetsky was the first to have his grave fixed from a cross to a Star of David, leading Schacter to entitle the project “Operation Benjamin” (Tercatin, 2020). Garadetsky’s plot is Plot B Row 14 Grave 6 in the Normandy American Cemetary (Find a Grave, 2018). Fixing Garadetsky’s and other Jewish soldiers’ grave markers is about adequately remembering and honoring the forgotten and those that sacrificed their lives for freedom and justice. It emphasizes the fact that American Jews died for their country, democracy, and human rights. 

Garadetsky sacrificed his life so that I and others could live free. Especially as someone who grew up Jewish, his sacrifice meant that I could have a Bat Mitzvah, which is a coming-of-age ceremony where 12 to 13-year-olds read from the Torah and lead the religious service in order to become a Jewish adult. His sacrifice meant that my sister could have a Bat Mitzvah, which she had this past June. His sacrifice means that my future children can have Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, and we can practice Jewish traditions without fear. His sacrifice is meaningful to me as so many other Jewish children were robbed of the opportunity to have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah and were murdered for it. Though I do not consider myself religiously Jewish, I feel connected to the customs and traditions such as Shabbat and reading Torah. It can be a very joyous occasion when Jewish prayers are sung. It makes me simultaneously happy and somber when joining together in song and prayer as Jewish people are now able to freely vocalize their traditions, but during WWII, if you simply had Jewish ties, you were murdered. 

His Ukrainian identity is also important to me because of the war Russia has waged against Ukraine. The Russian government and military have been committing human rights atrocities against the Ukrainian people while also encroaching on Ukrainian territory.  Though the Holocaust and the Russia-Ukraine war are different, I am horrified that Russia has committed similar crimes against humanity as images of slaughtered civilians in the streets of Ukraine have surfaced. I am frightened that another World War will commence; however, if it is to protect human rights, then I understand its necessity. Garadetsky’s sacrifice is always important, but it is even more relevant with the war in Ukraine. We must stand up for them so the Ukrainian people no longer suffer. His sacrifice reminds me to stay vigilant and combat those that perpetuate tyranny and genocide.

Benjamin Garadetsky’s corrected gravestone (Gresik, 2020).

References

Find a Grave. (2018). PFC Benjamin Barney “Boruch” Garadetsky… Findagrave.com. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/56644750/benjamin-barney-garadetsky

Gresik, D. (2020, February 21). How one organization is working to correct cases of Jewish WWII soldiers mistakenly buried under Latin Cross headstones. Military Times; Military Times. https://www.militarytimes.com/veterans/military-history/2020/02/21/how-one-organization-is-working-to-correct-cases-of-jewish-wwii-soldiers-mistakenly-buried-under-latin-cross-headstones/

Kampeas, R. (2022, May 2). Jewish soldiers are buried under crosses around the world. A rabbi’s nonprofit is changing that. Jewish Telegraphic Agency; Jewish Telegraphic Agency. https://www.jta.org/2022/05/02/united-states/jewish-soldiers-are-buried-under-crosses-around-the-world-a-rabbis-nonprofit-is-changing-that

Operation Benjamin | Benjamin Garadetsky. (2015). Operation Benjamin. https://www.operationbenjamin.org/benjamin-garadetsky-case-study

Tercatin, R. (2020). Jewish soldiers buried under a cross, mistake fixed 75 years later. The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com; The Jerusalem Post. https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Jewish-soldiers-buried-under-a-cross-mistake-fixed-75-years-later-617437

‌Maya Rylke-Friedman: Père Lachaise As Text

“Simone Signoret and Yves Montand” by Maya Rylke-Friedman of FIU

Signoret and Montand posing for a photo (Rawley, 2017).

Signoret and Montand’s story

Simone Signoret and Yves Montand are dubbed the “mythical couple of French cinema” (Figaro avec AFP, 2021). Both are iconic celebrities in film. They have a taboo start to their relationship as Signoret was married to Yves Allégret and had a daughter, Catherine Allégret, with him when she met Montand in Saint-Paul de Vence in August 1949 (Office De Tourisme St Paul de Vence, 2017). Fun fact: Yves Montand would frequently play ​​pétanque there, the same game we saw people playing in the square de la place Dauphine. She divorced Allégret and married Montand in 1951 (Office De Tourisme St Paul de Vence, 2017). 

Montand was born in Italy, and he was named Ivo Livi. His family fled Italy as Mussolini rose to power ‌(Riding, 1991). He grew up in a working-class family and was discovered by Edith Piaf whom he dated (Riding, 1991). He became known as Yves Montand when he became a singer and actor thereafter.

Simone Signoret was born on March 25, 1921, and Montand was born on October 13, 1921 (Simone Signoret – IMDb, n.d.). Signoret’s father was Jewish, and he fled France and went to England during the Nazi occupation (Simone Signoret – IMDb, n.d.) During this time, Signoret kept her mother’s maiden name and worked without a permit, so that she would be safe from the Nazis (Simone Signoret – IMDb, n.d.). This is interesting because though I am vocal about my Judaism, I did not specifically choose Signoret for this reason. I simply stumbled upon this fact, and it is astounding that her story ties back to World War II and Judaism.

Signoret worked as an extra for many productions before rising to stardom (Simone Signoret – IMDb, n.d.). Signoret’s first major role was in Dédée d’Anvers, where she played a prostitute who falls in love with a man and tries to escape her profession (Dédée d’Anvers – IMDb, n.d.).  The Crucible was Montand’s and Signoret’s first movie together (Ossona, 2020). Signoret won an Oscar in April 1960 for Les Chemins de la Haute Ville (Room at the Top) (Simone Signoret – IMDb, n.d.). Yves Montand had an affair with Marilyn Monroe while filming “Let’s Make Love” in the 1960s (Carvalho, 2022). However, Montand and Signoret did not separate after this. 

When they became famous celebrities, Signoret and Montand wanted visas to enter the United States as Montand was a singer and he wanted to perform there. However, because of their progressive politics, they were barred from receiving one during the McCarthy Era. They did obtain visas in 1960 (Simone Signoret – IMDb, n.d.).

Les Diaboliques movie poster (Morgan, 2017).

Les Diaboliques (1955)

Signoret performed in Les Diaboliques, which has an iconic twist. It was a classic movie from the 1950’s shot in black and white.  Essentially, a schoolteacher inherited a school, and her husband is the principal. Her husband has a mistress, played by Signoret, and she is friends with the schoolteacher. The husband is verbally and physically abusive, so Signoret’s character persuades the schoolteacher to poison her husband. 

The schoolteacher is overcome with guilt, and there are supernatural sightings of her husband on school grounds. (Spoiler Alert) One night, she finds her husband in her bathtub and dies from the shock. However, it turns out that Signoret’s character and the husband were in on it the whole time and wanted the schoolteacher to go crazy and die from guilt, so they could live together and inherit the school.

L’Aveu movie poster (SensCritique, n.d.).

L’Aveu (1970)

L’Aveu, (The Confession) was a film about a Czechoslovakian politician, Gérard, played by Montand, and his wife played by Signoret. Gérard is taken by the Czech police who torture and interrogate him. They try to make him confess treasonous behavior, but he maintains his innocence. The officials deprive him of rest and food. They make him walk in his cell for hours, repeat his life story countless times, and relentlessly attempt to coerce him into implicating himself. He is put on trial with other politicians, and most of them are sentenced to death, except for him and a few others. This film criticizes communist governments during the Cold War Era. Clearly, Signoret and Montand were not just artists, but they were passionate about politics. Through this movie, they were advocating against communism. 

Monstrous Character

However, it must be said that Montand and Signoret, while glamorous, have been rumored to be monstrous. According to Signoret’s grandson, Benjamin Castaldi, Signoret and Montand “were extraordinary [. But,] they could be monsters of selfishness and sometimes wickedness” (Figaro avec AFP, 2021). In 2004, Signoret’s daughter, Catherine Allégret, accused Montand of having abused her (Figaro avec AFP, 2021).

Signoret died of cancer on September 30, 1985 (Figaro avec AFP, 2021). Montand died of a heart attack ‌on November 9, 1991 (Riding, 1991).

My Personal Connection

I am pretty sure I have some sort of anxiety disorder. While I am usually vocal during class, I do get nervous in social situations and while presenting and performing. This is an anxiety that I want to work on and that I want to overcome. I want to conquer my fear of performing in front of others because I love film and music. Signoret’s and Montand’s legacy has encouraged me to be more confident, to maintain being an advocate for human rights, no matter the career field I end up in, and to be a genuine person throughout my life’s journey. After everything we’ve been through, the physical, mental, and emotional struggles we have experienced during this trip have helped me feel more confident and inspired me to conquer my fears and follow my dreams like Signoret and Montand did.

References

Carvalho, L. (2022, March 25). Simone Signoret et Yves Montand : comment se sont-ils rencontrés ? Gala.fr; Gala.fr. https://www.gala.fr/l_actu/news_de_stars/simone-signoret-et-yves-montand-comment-se-sont-ils-rencontres_490016

Dédée d’Anvers – IMDb. (n.d.). IMDb. Retrieved July 28, 2022, from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039344?

Figaro avec AFP. (2021, March 25). Signoret-Montand, le couple mythique du cinéma français aurait cent ans. LEFIGARO. https://www.lefigaro.fr/cinema/signoret-montand-le-couple-mythique-du-cinema-francais-aurait-cent-ans-20210325

Morgan. (2017, February 5). LES DIABOLIQUES | Critique du film d’Henri-Georges Clouzot. LE BLEU DU MIROIR | Critiques Cinématographiques. http://www.lebleudumiroir.fr/critique-les-diaboliques-clouzot/

Office De Tourisme St Paul de Vence. (2017). Yves Montand & Simone Signoret – Saint-Paul de Vence. Saint-Paul de Vence. https://www.saint-pauldevence.com/en/history/celebrities/yves-montand-simone-signoret/#:~:text=Yves%20Montand%20and%20Simone%20Signoret’s,with%20his%20guitarist%20Henri%20Crolla.

Ossona, J. (2020, August 3). SIMONE SIGNORET AND YVES MONTAND’S TRUE LOVE IN 10 PHOTOGRAPHS. Califorjay; Califorjay. https:/www.califorjay.com/post/simone-signoret-and-yves-montand-s-true-love-in-10-photographs

Rawley, L. (2017, March 13). France Through the Lens of Richard Avedon. The Cut; The Cut. https://www.thecut.com/2017/03/see-photos-from-avedons-france-old-world-new-look.html

Riding, A. (1991, November 10). Yves Montand, Sage Charmer of French Film and Politics, Dies at 70 (Published 1991). The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1991/11/10/world/yves-montand-sage-charmer-of-french-film-and-politics-dies-at-70.html

SensCritique. (n.d.). L’Aveu. Senscritique.com. https://www.senscritique.com/film/L_Aveu/428019

Simone Signoret – IMDb. (n.d.). IMDb. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0797531/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: