Hemut Berger in Salon Kitty, the only man who not even a swastika can fear. Getty Images
I met the recently deceased Helmut Berger, the most handsome man in the universe, saving the distances, in 1981, when, already in decline (his decline was longer than that of the Buddenbrooks), he was filming in Barcelona Victoria! The great adventure of a people, by Antoni Ribas. I point out from the outset, and I'm very sorry, that I'm not going to make any sensational revelations about Helmut a la Miguel Bosé (who then, by the way, I thought was quite much, especially when I imitated him dancing Super Superman: we all have a past).
It occurred, my fleeting encounter with Berger, at the birthday party of my brother-in-law, Carli Poch, in which the Austrian actor appeared without anyone having invited him and already loaded, and almost reached the hands with the host to get violent with his girlfriend, Ana, because he took a picture. He tried to take the camera away in a bad way and my brother-in-law, who was not dragged by anyone, took him by the lapels of his jacket and told him that at his party there was a free photo just as there was an open bar, Helmut whatever your name is. I have always had an ambivalent opinion of the actor of The Fall of the Gods (1969), and not only because he was avowedly bisexual and his tastes so broad: from Visconti to Bosé and from Ursula Andress to the girl in The Exorcist, Linda Blair, with whom he coincided in the filming of Victoria in Entebbe, 1976. without forgetting the pyroclastic Florinda Bolkan, whom we remember especially hooked on Tony Musante's oboe in Anonymous Venetian.
De Berger is hard for me to say if I like him as an actor or not, and especially to judge his way of dressing. In clothing, Helmut went from exquisite to tacky without seeming to care (or notice). I think he looked so handsome that he was as much about going as much as Ludwig II as a gigolo or a chapero, a party at Neuschwanstein Castle with Sissi or a jet set farra in Friedrichsruh with Gunilla. I would look at the closet and say to his clothes: "what a chance you have today".
I have to admit that I have always wanted to wear tennis as did his character of Alberto in The Garden of the Finzi-Contini (1970), where he competed in beauty, class and elegance with Dominique Sanda (miss wet shirt of the Jewish community of Ferrara). In The Picture of Dorian Gray came out in balls with great naturalness and it is curious to think that, over the years, it seemed that the one who aged badly was him and not the painting. We remember Helmut as one of those who has best dressed in the Nazi uniform in the cinema: come on, Ernst Röhm sees it and gives a new meaning to the night of the long knives. But today I would like to remember above all Helmut Berger for a film not very well known that nevertheless for me as a teenager was a great romantic shock, from which I have not yet recovered, A butterfly with bloody wings (1971), by Duccio Tessari. It was a giallo that happened in Bergamo and in which a young and introverted pianist, Giorgio, became a criminal to avenge the murder of his young and beautiful lover Françoise (Carole André). For all his cockiness, vicious narcissism and bad movies, I will never forget Berger playing on the verge of tears, obsessively, over and over again the beginning of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. Rest in peace, Helmut, handsome.
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