Charlotte Rampling: Detail Upon Detail

Photograph by Jacques Haillot

New Orleans
Conversation and Notes

I could do so much with Miss Rampling, and she could do so much with some of my women. I feel that she understands the meaning of loss; the meaning of time; the value of fabulist thinking. I'm saying that she knows--or appears to know--how to survive.

I think she is frighteningly intelligent--or perhaps intuitive, I don't know. She gets the scene, whatever that scene happens to be. She knows her place, her position, and she is never errant in anything in which I've seen her. Luchino [Visconti] told me that is the ideal sponge, in that she understands entirely her placement as an actress, as a person, as an element within a film. She has, he told me, the rare gift of being able to both blend and to stand out. 

That is a star.

Photography by Helmut Newton
Her best work is yet to come, because she will find a way to subvert everything we feel we know about her. She'll surprise those who thought we knew all that she could do. She is going to age into a glorious creature, endowed with a dowry of emotional and aesthetic conquests. Cavafy would appreciate the armoire she might open and from which will tumble her stories. I wonder if she has any desire to write. I would like to read what she saw on the side of the road she has traveled.

She's diabolically good in Stardust Memories. I loved that movie. So visually beautiful--stripped, lean, full of black and silver and malice and truth. That film perfectly captured the inanities of public life; the assumptions of fame. Stardust, indeed! The influences of both Woody Allen [the director] and of the public that wants more and more of him were evident in that film--as they should have been--and he was criticized for cadging. 

No one, I hasten to add, ever gets the point.

 Rampling was so good in that film. Dangerous. Pregnant with peril, as the good director always said an actress should be. Coiled to endure and inflict pain. Crystalline in effect. Detail upon detail. Rarely has the jump cut so perfectly captured a personal disintegration, and she gave completely of herself.

I'm going to find myself on a creative street with her someday.

Charlotte Rampling and Woody Allen in Stardust Memories (1980).


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