Brigitte Bardot may be the first name that comes to mind when you think of French star-love symbol, but Catherine Deneuve she gives the impression that she is the whole of French post-war cinema, as in addition to her numerous film appearances is also this incredible length of her career.

Its iconic form and its collaboration with the leading European directors Buñuel, Polanski, Demy, Truffaut, Melville, Rizzi, Varda, Chabrol, Ferreri, Tessiné, Lelouch and many others, will make it an integral part of the greatest moments of European cinematography. But Catherine Deneuve is much more to France. It is no coincidence that her iconic face will in 1985 take the form of “Marian”, the national symbol of France.

Once Severin forever… Severin

Taking a flashback to her film career, we will meet her Severin, the beautiful, but amorously cold, doctor’s wife, who becomes a luxury brothel prostitute, nicknamed “The Beauty of the Day.” Severin, fulfilling all her sexual fantasies and those of her clients, the more she indulges in them – even though she knows that at some point her secret double life will be revealed – the more tender she becomes with her husband…

It is the title role of his masterpiece film Luis Buñuel, which would take off her fame in 1967 and give her her main performance characteristics, her cinematic persona. Roles of cold, distant, mysterious women, although it was preceded by the excellent and also famous film of Jacques Demy “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, with which the avenue of her long career opened.

Catherine Deneuve, today turns 80 years old (October 22, 1943) and continues to flourish in and out of film sets, to be active even though she has behind her five careers in one and a uniquely full life, while for 15 years she has already reached 100 movies.

Dorleac who became Deneve

Catherine Fabien Dorleac, as her real name was, was born in occupied Paris to actor parents, Maurice Dorleac and René Simoneau, and she also had three sisters – one was a half-brother. She would attend Catholic schools and later adopt the stage name Deneuve to differentiate herself from her sisters, who acted occasionally in some films.

From Vadim, to Demi and Polanski

She made her film debut at the age of 13 in 1957, with a small role, having by her side her younger sister Sylvie Dorleac. Then she will be in his arms Rose Vadimwith whom he will shoot some relatively indifferent films, but with his film Jacques Gérard Cornot “L’Homme a Femmes” will catch the eye of Jacques Demy. Thus, in 1964, she will co-star in the famous emotional musical “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” and immediately after, in the same year, in “The Rochefort Girls”, another wonderful musical by Demy, where she will also have her sister Françoise Dorleac next to her. In 1965 the Roman Polanski will give her the demanding role of Carol in the horror thriller Aversion, where she will do well and prove, early on, that she can play anything.

Symbol of an era

Two years later he will make waves with the love drama, scandalous at the time of “The Beauty of the Day”, a unique and forever attractive film, signed by the greatest Luis Buñuel. Deneuve, with the wonderful one by her side Michel Piccoli, will make a multi-layered interpretation and become a symbol of an era. He and Buñuel will work again three years later in “Tristana”, another great creation of the Spanish director, about the superstitious, repressed, pretending morality of the bourgeoisie, with Deneuve perfectly holding the role of a young orphan, who falls into the arms of a lustful aristocrat, of the unrestrained Fernando Rey.

The continuation for Deneuve will be triumphant, as she will collaborate in many films with important directors and wonderful partners. What is the first to remember from her countless films: “Mississippi Siren”, “The Last Subway”, “Mayerling”, “Shock”, “Indochina”, “Eight Women” or “My Favorite Season” ;

Yves Saint Laurent, Playboy and abortion

Deneuve’s personality, however, was not limited only to the big screen, to artistic events or even to fashion, influencing as a model, being his muse Yves Saint Laurent and his Cartier, but also several other big fashion houses or as a cover of Playboy. In 1972 he signed the “Manifesto of 343”, for the legalization of abortion in France, even risking a prison sentence, while he is an active member of Amnesty International and especially for the abolition of the death penalty. More recently, in 2018, she, along with 100 other French writers, artists and academics, will sign an open letter on sexual harassment, denouncing that the campaign in question has turned into a “witch hunt” and is a new form of puritanism.

Marcello, Roger and the children

In her personal life, she did not do badly, in contrast to many of her colleagues. Although she was married only once, to the British photographer David Bailey in 1965, he will have serious ties with two cinema heartthrobs, at most Rose Vadim and the Italian charmer Marcello Mastroianni, from whom he had a son and a daughter – actress Chiara Mastroianni. He will also enter into relationships with the great businessman Paul Lescourt and the Irish filmmaker Hugh Johnson.

Catherine Deneuve, with her five grandchildren, continues her journey in the cinema, overcoming a small stroke a few years ago, enjoying her recognition, as she took advantage of all the opportunities presented to her – she should praise Buñuel every day, but also Demi – and it is certain that she has long left her mark on world cinema. And this may be due, apart from her talent, to her special charm, her persistence and her excessive professionalism and her belief that “a woman should be smart, have charm, a sense of humor and be kind” . After all, it was no coincidence that she was looking for the same characteristics in men – perhaps even in her admirers…