Iconic Spotlight : On Set of ‘The Assassination of Trotsky’, by Eva Sereny

We all knew she was going to be around, I’m not sure how we found out but there was a hushed whisper that travelled. I was there to take photos, so that’s exactly what I did.  She never seemed to mind me being there with my camera, I suppose she was well used to it. This was the only time I ever took photos of Elizabeth Taylor.  And she wasn’t even in the film.

The Assassination of Trotsky, filmed in 1972, featured Richard Burton. The director, Joseph Losey, was just off the set of The Go-Between, which was a real cultural success, so I was familiar with his work. The Publicist suggested I ask Jo Losey if I could come on set and take a few stills which he agreed to. He told me about Burton’s character in the film, but I was more interested by Alain Delon, who also stars in the film. He was very big at the time.

Elizabeth would come to the set to visit Burton and I was definitely out to get as many shots as I could without being in the foreground and noticed. I was lucky with what material I did get on Elizabeth Taylor. She wasn’t particularly cooperative but on the other hand not unpleasant. Somehow, I feel she just ignored me. She was so intent on him.

However, I feel I did get some interesting material especially when one looks at one of my images between Richard and Elizabeth – which has nothing to do with the Assassination of Trotsky. I’m pleased to have caught Elizabeth in a rare very much happy- go- lucky mood – laughing while holding a little rabbit.

Romy Schneider

Although the film didn’t reach the same level of acclaim as Losey’s previous award-winning feature, this is when I met Romy.

It was on this set that I met the actress for the first time. She was very well-known in Europe at the time and Delon and Schneider had a very public relationship years before the making of this film. They did, though, remain on good terms but I believe this was the last film they ever did together. With Romy, I just connected instantly, and it was during the filming when she called me up on a rainy night to ask if I wanted to take some pictures of her. That series of images remains to this day as my most popular.

For a long time, I kept prints and negatives in my cellar in Rome. A few years ago, I had someone helping me organize my archive and we went down to the cellar and, my god, it had flooded. All those Trotsky pictures, they all got wet. I’m not able to find any of Delon. We saved as many as we could, but I still see the waterstains on the images.


Extract taken from Eva Sereny’s new book ‘Through Her Lens’, available SIGNED by Eva Sereny at the Iconic Images store.

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