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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Barbara Loden and ‘Wanda’: a woman in the shadows | Feminism

You always have to go back to Barbara Loden and Wanda. Marguerite Duras has already ventured, one day this fragile film about an absent and fugitive woman directed and starring a woman who considered herself “nothing” would find her audience and her passionate vindication would no longer be a cry in the desert. Released in 1970, the only film by American actress Barbara Loden remained in the limbo of cult works until, in the 21st century, it was promoted by genre critics. Now, a book written by the French Nathalie Léger (Paris, 61 years old) and entitled Life of Barbara Loden (Sixth Floor) haunts the ghost of a woman whose premature death from cancer in 1980, at the age of 48, ended with a talent out of the ordinary. “Barbara Loden was born in 1932, six years after Marilyn Monroe, two before my mother, and the same year as Elizabeth Taylor, Delphine Seyrig, and Sylvia Plath. She was 38 years old when she directed and played Wanda”, writes Léger in a book that she began to write in order to be an entry in a film dictionary to end up as a letter of admiration. In 1971, Loden confessed that she had been a lonely child hiding behind her grandmother’s “stove”. She felt “an autistic, convinced that she was worth nothing, without dignity.” “She had no friends. She had no talent. She was a shadow. I didn’t learn anything at school. He barely knew how to count. And I didn’t like movies: people who were so perfect scared me, it made me feel even more inept”. Still from ‘Wanda’ (1970). Photo: CORDON PRESS Léger takes note of everything, including the memoirs of Elia Kazan, much older and more respected than his wife. “Wild, original, insolent and sly”, Loden is a woman “savvy” with men and, despite her withdrawn character, she is strong and independent, even “aggressive” when she surfaces “sexual passion or rage ”. In 1964 she plays Maggie in Arthur Miller’s play After the Fall. The character is a reflection of Marilyn, Miller’s ex-wife. Loden embroiders it and wins a Tony award giving life to a woman who moves in a paradox: wild and, at the same time, restrained. Among the items Loden left behind when she died were manuscripts, notebooks and tapes. Also the letter from a man who did not love her. For years, she assured the actress, she felt like the living dead. Wanda was her way of shouting to the world that it existed. She certainly succeeded and so, on her deathbed, she simply repeated “shit, shit, shit.” Barbara Loden in a portrait from the sixties. Photo: Cordon Press

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– Article Written By @Elsa Fernández-Santos from https://smoda.elpais.com/feminismo/una-mujer-en-la-sombra/

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