I met Arianna, without her borsalino, on a Greek island beach. Now in her 70’s she told me so many fascinating stories that I wanted to share some of these with my fellow AOC’s!
Arianna, an only child of parents’ in their 40’s, was brought up in a tiny village in old Czechoslovakia in the late 1930’s. She remembers an idyllic childhood. Once, on her birthday, she wanted a live bear and her father arranged for her to have one through the local zoo – although it never happened because war broke out. Her father was from a gypsy family and a highly gifted musician whilst her mother was an aristocrat and her family were not happy about the marriage. Arianna was brought up by constantly changing nannies and her education was primarily music and poetry from her father. She played the piano from the age of three and by six could recite Goethe and Schiller. She spent much time alone, as she was not allowed to play with other children. She adored her father who had a series of mistresses who she knew as ‘aunts’ and enjoyed the life of these beautifully dressed women and classical music.
In 1950 (aged 12) she was sent by herself to West Germany and then followed a time when she went to 13 different schools including a music conservatoire. The Germans imprisoned her father during this period, which is why Arianna was sent to live away at various schools, a monastery and even friends. Eventually she was persuaded to study medicine but stopped a year after when her father died. She went to Munich University to study theatre, music and philosophy; her own choice. In the holidays she worked as a market researcher that enabled her to travel and have access to many sorts of people, visiting their homes, which she would not otherwise have had.
Eventually, in the 1960′s, she made it into the film industry, meeting, knowing and working with now famous people such as Peter Whitehead, Andy Warhol, Werner Herzog, Roman Polanski, Peter Fleischman, and her great friend, recently deceased, Theo Angelopoulos. Her trade mark was wearing a ‘Borsalino’ whilst she worked on set!
Arianna has earned a lot of money in her lifetime – but has always spent it! There’s certainly the ‘gypsy’ in her – she even went to the Festival of Les Saintes Maries De La Mer in France in 1962 to re-connect with her father’s roots. Again in the 60’s, on a whim, she took a train to Athens and ended up sailing to the Greek Island of Sirius where she eventually learned Greek whilst living with a local village family. She settled on Hydra 24 years ago, magically entering the harbour, for the first time – having hitched a lift on a boat with some young men – on an evening of a blue moon. She adores houses and Hydra, unchanged in many ways since the 1900’s. She looks after and lives in other people’s homes, something that suits her somewhat gypsy lifestyle. Hydra has no wheeled vehicles and all you hear are the sound of birds, animals and donkeys. Arianna can spend her time walking around this national monument; going for a swim; enjoying blue sea and wild flowers in spring and listening to her great love: classical music.
Arianna has no regrets about her colourful life-style and the wonderful people she has met. She did not want to follow the traditional life for a woman of her time and making films was something she enjoyed and from which she received great satisfaction. She never married or had children – but as she says, she has had ‘a wonderful life’.