Growing up in the midwest, my winters were filled with ice-skating in Forest Park on Sundays. My cousin and I would pretend we were competing in the pairs division of the Olympics and he would throw me so high in the air I literally thought I was flying. It suffices to say, that to this day, I’m still obsessed with skating on ice.
Sonja: The White Swan chronicles the life, rise and downfall of Olympic skater Sonja Henie. Henie was to ice-skating what Esther Williams was to swimming. Both were Olympians, both took Hollywood by storm, but only one had the pleasure of working with the legendary Busby Berkeley. Unlike Williams, Henie was a shrewd business woman whose greed for money, men and movies would ultimately contribute to her downfall.
Hollywood never saw this Norwegian ice-queen coming. Henie was a brash, bold, shining star who had issues giving love, but not taking it. Ine Marie Wilmann seems to invoke the spirit of Sonja so masterfully that you forget you are watching an actress in a role. She convincingly conveys this historic diva with verve and ages her perfectly from a fresh-faced film ingenue to a drunken, washed up Ice Queen literally falling flat on her keister. Beautifully shot, director Anne Sewitsky transports the audience rich back to 1930’s Hollywood with all its splendor.
You can’t help but wonder If Sonja’s downfall was in part to the pressures of having to take care of her entire family, staff for those large elaborate shows and the men she desperately tried to keep a leash on. It’s a shame her artistry is lost on the audience and skating fans of today. Hopefully, at some point, Sonja: The White Swan and will remind if only for a moment, of a time when elegance, spectacle and star power were more than a fancy ice show.