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Liz Taylor through French eyes

Hollywood star Elizabeth Taylor’s death on Wednesday stirred grief and nostalgia around the world. But in France, the flood of reactions from high-profile cultural and political figures has been particularly intense.

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The death of Anglo-American film star and Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor has stirred the usual responses of grief and nostalgia among film lovers around the world. In France, where Taylor received the national honour Commandeur des Arts and des Lettres in 1985, reactions of sorrow and admiration were particularly widespread. Despite the tumult in the Middle East (including the first bomb attack in Jerusalem since 2004), left-wing daily newspaper Libération put Taylor on its cover on Thursday, under the headline “Queen Elizabeth”, and devoted a six-page spread to the actress.

Here’s a look at what some notable French people had to say about the actress, the activist, the icon, and the private figure.

Prime Minister François Fillon

“The beauty and sensuality of the actress who will forever be Cleopatra on screen earned her world-wide fame….[She] has entered into the pantheon of the most talented Hollywood actresses.”

Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand

“People spoke about Liz Taylor’s emerald eyes, and I can tell you that when her eyes were on you, it was unforgettable….But she was also very timid, very gentle. People perceive Elizabeth Taylor as an outgoing American, but she was really a shy, polite Englishwoman….

She was the last star, just as we say the last emperor or the last queen. And it’s true that she was indisputably a star through and through: the mythical life, the marriages, the lateness, the tantrums, the spending, everything that fascinates the public. But at the same time, this fascination would not have existed if people did not also sense the enormous talent behind all the rest.”
 

Former Culture Minister Jack Lang

“This great, unforgettable actress became a legend through masterpieces which will forever be part of the history of cinema. Her heart of gold drove her to support the most human causes.”

President of Cannes Film Festival Gilles Jacob

“She was a cat with forget-me-not eyes and beautiful dark curls, but at the same time she was someone who acted beautifully in all-consuming roles, from homewreckers to femme fatales.”

Writer and journalist Philippe Labro

“She represented the Hollywood of Technicolor, the Hollywood of enchantment, the Hollywood of glamour, but without the bling-bling; with a certain elegance.”

Actress and singer Line Renaud

“I admired Elizabeth’s example, from which I took inspiration and support. Her sincerity and determination in the difficult battle against AIDS will remain an amazing encouragement in helping research to find a cure.”

Jean-Luc Wachthausen, culture editor at daily newspaper Le Figaro

“Elizabeth Taylor’s career was just like her: glorious and chaotic. Like Marilyn Monroe, she incarnated the star system, in which she became the object of the public’s fantasies, and also made them cry – especially when her private life resembled a living nightmare.”

Gérard Lefort, film critic and culture editor at daily newspaper Libération

“There’s something strange in her work. We often have a powerful impression that she’s playing out her own personal life on screen....There’s also the glamour. She was one of the most beautiful women in the world. She made her mark on Hollywood because she was dark-haired, she was the brunette against all the blondes….She was also a very free woman in Hollywood. She said what she thought. She told off studios, journalists. She said ‘That’s the way it is, take it or leave it.’

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