Sonja: The White Swan
- 1h 53m
The story of Sonja Henie, one of the world's greatest athletes and the inventor of modern figure skating, who decides to go to Hollywood in 1936 to become a movie star.The story of Sonja Henie, one of the world's greatest athletes and the inventor of modern figure skating, who decides to go to Hollywood in 1936 to become a movie star.The story of Sonja Henie, one of the world's greatest athletes and the inventor of modern figure skating, who decides to go to Hollywood in 1936 to become a movie star.
The film moves pretty quickly through Sonja's life - a little too quickly.
Henie was an innovator in the skating world and a tough cookie, but there isn't enough of her young life to show how her personality developed. She was an aggressive, unpleasant, greedy woman from a very early time.
Consider that during one Olympics, she ripped up the piece of paper that posted the results of a close competitor and then got the position of skating last, while her colleague performed second, giving Henie a big scoring advantage. We could have used more in the way of that type of thing, in her early skating as well as family dynamics.
The main focus seems to be her career and her strong libido. There is one graphic scene with Tyrone Power (Gustavo Rojo) - this was a passionate sexual relationship, as evidenced by their letters to one another published in her brother's book. Rojo was cleverly photographed - profile, and in shadow where only his eyes were shown, so he did resemble Power.
However, while the casting people were careful casting and photographing Power, they apparently couldn't have cared less about Sonya. In real life, she was petite and looked like a peasant, though cute. Here she's tall, leggy, and is a cross between Cate Blanchett and Gillian Anderson.
We see some skating scenes, her success in ice shows, and then the winding down of her career. The film tells the story of her disastrous foray into ice shows without a business partner, but neglects to mention she did skate in Europe with great success before the disaster in Rio. Due to drinking, she lost a lot of her ability.
Sonja, the White Swan also focuses on her relationship with her assistant, Connie, who is fictional. She does become estranged from her brother, depriving him of his livelihood so she can have more money. It's not clear in her real biography if Niels was a family friend or someone she met later - in the movie, they were children together. In the film, he comes to dislike her. Obviously not true in real life.
The movie also focuses on her relationship with Hitler and the big Nazis.
It was a lot to pack in, and for me it was too episodic. The best part is the very end when they show the real Sonja skating, a scene with Tyrone Power, and photos of her in her later life.
Ine Marie Wilmann is an excellent actress and gave Henie the glamor she had in real life, as well as showing her nasty side.
Henie was a beautiful skater at a time when athletics weren't the main focus - she was fast, had great spins, and her toepick work was notable. She was a delightful presence on the ice. Elsewhere, not so much.
- May 3, 2021