World Premiere at TIFF
by Helenistic | helen-mccrory.com | September, 13, 2021
Charlotte, an animated movie to which Helen McCrory contributed her voice is getting its world premiere today at the Toronto Film Festival.
Keira Knightley leads the brilliant cast including Brenda Blethyn, Jim Broadbent, Sam Claflin, Henry Czerny, Eddie Marsan, the late Helen McCrory, Sophie Okonedo, and Mark Strong.
The Canada-France-Belgium animated drama depicts the true story of Charlotte Salomon, a young German-Jewish artist who comes of age on the eve of the Second World War and defies incredible odds to create a timeless masterpiece.
The project is inspired by the autobiographical painting series “Life? or Theatre?” by Charlotte Salomon herself.
Here is a short synopsis from Charlotte’s production notes:
Charlotte is an animated drama that tells the true story of Charlotte Salomon, a young German-Jewish painter who comes of age in Berlin on the eve of the Second World War. Fiercely imaginative and deeply gifted, she dreams of becoming an artist. Her first love applauds her talent, which emboldens her resolve. But the world around her is changing quickly and dangerously, limiting her options and derailing her dream. When anti-Semitic policies inspire violent mobs, she leaves Berlin for the safety of the South of France. There she begins to paint again, and finds new love. But her work is interrupted, this time by a family tragedy that reveals an even darker secret. Believing that only an extraordinary act will save her, she embarks on the monumental adventure of painting her life story.
In the production notes for the movie, Helen says that the depth of the character is what sold her playing Charlotte’s stepmother Paula.
“She went from being the stepmother of many stories – which is the interloper, the threat to the young girl – into becoming a mother,” says McCrory. “And just as Charlotte becomes an artist, and Albert becomes a survivor, so Paula becomes a mother. So this triangle, all have a story that we follow.”
McCrory believes the script is particularly generous to Paula, who offers a window into the risks of choosing the artist’s life. “As an artist, you use yourself,” she suggests, asking one of the film’s underlying questions. “What is it when you use yourself, but you’re not allowed to be yourself because you’re a Jew?”
Despite that darkness, McCrory agrees that Charlotte is a story of triumph. “There’s a line in this when somebody says ‘it is not whether life loves you, it’s whether you love life’. And for me, that’s absolutely encapsulated in this film, and it’s a total salute to her.”