Thursday, February 23, 2012
Rest well and thank you, Lina Romay
This is a sad day for fans of cinema. Not Trash Cinema. Not Cult Cinema... the cinema of Jess Franco and Lina Romay goes beyond a lot of labels, and today found the announcement that Rosa Maria Almirall, better known to the world as Lina Romay, passed away on February 15th, 2012.
I've posted a lot of Romay items over the years as you can see by clicking this LINA ROMAY TAGS link. She was the original (and often returned to) subject of Casual (un)Dress Friday. That has been really popular, and it really started after I realized that Lina Romay was captured online in many iconic images, but there was more to her performances to be shown. And she did work nude quite a bit...
Heck, I had the theme to Female Vampire played at my wedding-that is easily as much Lina Romay as it is Jess Franco. And yes, perhaps it is a clue to just how hardwired the many images, sounds and sights of their cinema are in my imagination.
The above tag link will bring you to movie reviews, image posts, videos and more. Check it out--I think there is a lot to celebrate there.
So, today I heard that cancer has taken another light from my own personal constellation of stars and I have to admit it struck me hard. I have been becoming used to many of the artistic inspirations in my life reaching an age where these things happen, but I don't think I expected to hear this so soon. I'm not exactly a tough guy, but I found a few tears on my cheek, not just for Lina Romay, but also the love of her life, Jess Franco.
If ever there was a moment on film that I could call "love" being revealed it would be Lina calming a distraught Jess Franco down during the filming of Blind Target, which was captured in the Antena Criminal documentary. Seeing a filmmaker like Franco in such underwhelming circumstances still struggling hard to create his own visions, it becomes clear that Lina was a steadying lens which much of that was filtered through for many years. Also, be sure to look at the Goya Awards clip of a wheelchair bound Franco and the pride in his companions eyes as she stood by him onstage, having a lifetime of achievement being recognized. Certainly a great deal of his legacy will be shared by her.
I'm not particularly good at this kind of post, but I can tell you what I found so interesting and inspiring (in many ways!) about Lina Romay. I never had the opportunity to meet her, but this quote has long stuck with me. It is exactly what I always saw in her performances...
"I love the cinema, as an actress, an editor, as a technician and a spectator... It's said I am an exhibitionist. Every actor is one, I gladly except that. I'm not a hypocrite." Madrid, April 1996 from the One Shot Publication "The Lina Romay File"
Lina Romay was a beautiful woman that hurled herself headlong into the visions of her eventual lifetime companion and never, ever, showed fear when she was onscreen. She could play a mute vampire as easily as a libidinous nun. A comedic detective or a lust demented sexual slave to witchcraft wasn't a stretch. A woman hunted or a vicious hunter--she made it look deceptively simple. A lover to her lover or her directors worst nightmare given flesh... Lina Romay was an actress. And if you asked her if she had any reservations about her roles as Lulu Laverne, hungrily diving into the S rated world of sex films, I'm sure she would smile and treat it as just another aspect of the identity that she carved into celluloid to leave behind to us.
I admired her even more when One Shot Productions began a run of films shot on the cheap with Jess Franco. Instead of shying away from the limelight, she stepped to the side and retained her unique vigor for either comedy, drama or straight up strange sex and stayed the starlet of Franco's world. It was an act of fearlessness I appreciated. Lina Romay was a star without the trappings. She didn't shy away from getting older, rounder, thinner or greyer. The intangibles that Lina Romay brought never faded, and I've found her unique and beautiful in each role because of that. Instead of trying to cosmetically retain the look of the Bare Breasted Countess, she instead became very mortal and now leaves a legacy that is immortal.
A career that was shocking, funny, odd, weird and downright unfathomable at times... a woman that had the sheer balls to carry off anything a role required. With a smile. And that distinct look in her eye that was always Rosa...and forever Lina.
For more Lina, my tribute piece from a few years ago is on this blog at this post. ENTHRALLED BY THE BARE BREASTED COUNTESS