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« NYFF: "The Skin I Live In"It's Alive!| Main| Actresses (2009): On Being A Female Actor »
Saturday
Oct 15 2011

Beauty Break: Vanessa Redgrave,Bewitching in Any Season

♪ if i ever i would leave you
how could it be in springtime?
knowing how in Spring,I'm bewitched by you so?
oh,no,not in Springtime...

Summer...

Winter...

...or Fall

No never would I leave you....at all ♫.

Sigh.

So excited to see Vanessa again inCoriolanus,aren't you?And potentially at the Oscars亚博主页?

Just recently I was suddenly remembering how perfect she's been in virtually all the seasons of her career.I love her inCamelot(1967) but mostly for her gorgeousity and because the Arthurian Legends have bewitched me since I was a kid.My favorite Vanessa performances are off the top of my head..

  1. If These Walls Could Talk 2(2000)
  2. Julia(1977 -Oscar win)
  3. The Devils(1971)

Share yours,please!Is it from the spring,summer,winter or fall of her career?

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Reader Comments (25)

I haven't seen much of her work.She's an actress I know of mainly in theory.Two films of hers I've seen off the top of my head Mission Impossible and Howard's End.

October 15,2011 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I think she's one of the greatest living actresses.Her work in Isadora is perfect.And she is so,so fine in The Bostonians,Wetherby,Howards End,Yanks,Julia,the list goes on...amazing.

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterMayukh

Yeah,definitely one of the best living actresses,combining skill with a rare sense of poetry (which only one or two others have).Just saw The Devils - terrible film,but her performance is unforgettable.Mad.Just this year she outacted Rachel Weisz with a couple of minutes of screentime in The Whistleblower.

October 15,2011 | Unregistered Commenterjavi

I really need to see The Devils.I suspect it's nuts!

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

an incredibly beautiful woman and she has aged so well!

She's great in "Julia"and "Mary,Queen of Scots"and "Atonement"and many other films!

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

Love her in Blowup...she's one of those few actresses who never gives away too much in her performances...where as many actors just go for broke and throw everything out on the line,she always holds a little back so that you never fully know everything about her character--like in Julia,which is one of the most deserved Oscar wins in supporting actress and a totally captivating and mysterious performance.At least,that's my opinion of Vanessa Redgrave,who is one of the greatest actors living.

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Deneuve,Redgrave,Fonda,Weaver,Loren,Streep,Spacek,Thompson...Among other examples.

Why do all great movie stars stay so beautiful after their prime?

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

Even Holly Hunter...No one in their right mind would say she's 50.

And Michelle Pfeiffer...Foxy.

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

Julia,Howards End,andPlaying for Timeare easily my three favorites,though she's immense in almost everything,and even when she goes offtrack or overboard it's almost always in a fascinating way.She's so indelible even in small turns.Her Lady Torrance inOrpheus Descendingis a personal favorite,partly because it's so weird.

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Favorite Redgrave performances: 'Julia'.'Howards End'.'The Devils'.And I love her perf on 'Blow-Up' too.

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

Nick -- i can't remember.have you seen her in THE DEVILS?I just think she's so fantastically committed to that bonkers film.certainly one of the most disturbing portraits of obvious* sexual repression I've seen.(*in real life we usually see obvious-to-everyone-but-themselves sexual repression in closeted gay man but it's so crazy delicious to see it from a hunchback nun)

Jorge -- i suspect Talent is actually the greatest antioxidant that exists.Good for the skin.

October 15,2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

TOP 3

1 - JULIA
2 -HOWARD'S END
3 - THOSE 6 MINUTES IN ATONEMENT

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterMrripley

I thought she was wonderful as Agatha Christie in 'Agatha.'

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

@Jorge: "Why do all great movie stars stay so beautiful after their prime?"

I have a suspicion that none of these actors would say they are past their primes.Or maybe they would if they defined "prime"in a certain way,but my point is this: all of us have a greater chance of staying in our prime if we don't consider our present tense as less important than our pasts.Just my two cents...

October 15,2011 | Unregistered Commentertimothy

I haven't seen Mission: Impossible in a decade,and I can still vividly recall her delivery of the line - 'Ah,the penny drops.You...are not Job'.She has such a way with timing and intonation,and her performances really unfurl across their length - even if I'm resistant at first,I'm usually on board by the end.

She's incredible in Howard's End,but also The Bostonians,which is in most respects a terrible film.I think Pauline Kael said it was incredibly rare for an actress to have a triumph without being allowed to laugh,and that was what Redgrave managed in that film,and she's right - Redgrave makes this pinched,humourless monomaniacal ideologue fascinating and sympathetic without selling short her extreme limitations.

Bonus Redgrave connection - Redgrave made the film 'Wetherby',named for and set in my home town in West Yorkshire,the year I was born.I was destined to be an actressexual!

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaika

The Bostonians!!!!!

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterKEVIN M.

Julia.
And despite it being a crap film,she was luminous in Letters to Juliet

I really hope she gets BSA this year.Deserving

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh

There's so much of her work I haven't seen (Julia,Atonement,If These Walls Could Talk,the Bostonians) which is insane because I love what I have seen of her and consider her THE greatest living film actress.(Sorry Meryl...close but no cigar.) Her few minutes in Howard's End,in her scene with Emma Thompson,left me weeping,her performance was so alive with emotion,her feelings right on the surface of her skin like nerve endings.I have not seen Playing for Time since it first aired on TV,and still remember it - that film and her performance,unblinking in it's raw honesty,seared my consciousness in a way few films ever have.(and I can't have been more than,what,10-12 years old?)

I honestly don't remember her in Mission Impossible (which is a movie I prefer to forget anyway);and admittedly I hated Isadora by the end.Not because of Redgrave's performance;I blame the directorial choices,sometimes effective but often pretentious,that dates the movie badly,and the ending shot (the close-up on her face) is just plain bizarre and unnecessary.

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

Oh and I just watched the Coriolanus trailer (thank you Nat!) Directed by Ralph Fiennes?Oh yes yes yes.I'm there.He's having quite the resurgence isn't he?About damn time.I loved him when he emerged in the '90's and have missed him onscreen.I was nervous about the screenwriter but Fiennes at the helm makes the difference for me.

From the trailer this certainly looks like it will be a far more successful modernization of Shakespeare than Baz's Romeo and Juliet (different play,different goals,I know,but sometimes frantic stylization can be taken to far.)

October 15,2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

Janice -- i can absolutely assure you that you will love love love her work in "If these walls could talk 2"rent it post-haste.

Laika -- i must see the bostonians.i keep forgetting and its so weird that i've never seen it given my merchant/ivory fetish.

October 15,2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

well she is one of my favourite actresses (and one of the favourite actor overall too).

she has taken such daring roles and movies through-out her career and have done very rare run of the mill stuff.

other posters have already mentioned her more known work like julia,isadora,if these walls could talk 2,playing for time,mary,queen of scots and of course the devils.but i would like to highlight some lesser known but equally brilliant work:

-Second Serve: tv movie based on a true story about a man who changed her sex to female

- Agatha: about the few days when the author Agatha Christie mysteriously vanished

-The Trojan Woman: based on the Greek tragedy.Katharine Hepburn worked with her on this and later said that VR is one of her favourite actress.

-Prick up your Ears: She was robbed of an Oscar nom though she did get a globe one.As a sharp,irreverent,practical publisher of playright Joe Orton.

-Three Sovereigns for Sarah: Another TV movie about Salem witch trials and anotehr VR tour de force portrayal of a headstrong rebellious woman.

It's a shame and a baffling fact that she never won a Best Actress Oscar (while Sandra Bullock,Julia Robers,Reese Witherspoon have).

I simply cannot wait for her nomination this year and the movie itself too.I have read nothing but consistent and extreme praise for her work in Coriolanus.Hopin',wishin',prayin' :)

Thanks Nathaniel for dedicating a post on her.I don't see he mentioned anywhere these days.

October 15,2011 | Unregistered Commenterhaqyunus

There are so many since she is brilliant in pretty much everything she touches but the top that come immediately to mind are:
Howards End-Her Ruth Wilcox is an exquisite rendition of a woman miles away from the real life Vanessa which makes her all the more interesting.
Isadora-The best showcase of her full talent I've ever seen.I didn't love the movie,although its been many years so I should probably watch again,but she was fantastic
Murder on the Orient Express-A great movie and she is so fun,sprightly,young and coltish it's easy to see why Sean Connery's character would fall for her.It's a shame they never worked together again,they have a nice chemistry.
Julia-Just great.
Atonement-She swoops in the at the end of the film and creates a flesh and blood character,showing what a superior talent can do with a only a few minutes of screen time.
My Body,My Child-A great performance in a TV movie that isn't remembered today but should be,she made the mother's struggle when faced with a horrifying dilemma about her unborn child totally involving.
Then there's The Gathering Storm,Prick Up Your Ears,Mary,Queen of Scots and so many other wonderful portrayals.Camelot,a troubling film in that she and Franco Nero are beautiful in it and the costumes amazing but they can't sing and I hate musicals where the actors can't sing,what's the point?

Three I'd love to see that have proved illusive are What Ever Happened to Baby Jane with sister Lynn,Playing for Time,and The Devils.

October 15,2011 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

I think I love her best in the springtime of her career where her luminosity combined with youth is just enchanting.One of my favorites is her breakthrough (which is always fun to see in retrospect) Morgan (1966),followed by The Seven Percent Solution (1976),Camelot (1967),The Trojan Women (1971),and Isadora (1968).

Of the late summer/autumn period,I love Howard's End (1992),The Bostonians (1984) where she and Christopher Reeve are both so implacable in dueling over the soul of the heroine,and Weatherby (1985) where Joely Richardson,Vanessa's daughter,plays Vanessa's character when younger.

Of the winter period,I admit to loving all the actresses turns in Bella Mafia (1997) and admiring the way she made Atonement a better movie.

I seem to remember reading something Pauline Kael said about actors playing ordinary people.She said (something like) where many actors can only play one type of extreme character,other actors have a wider range of skills.Paul Newman played an extremely wide range of ordinary people.When Vanessa Redgrave plays an ordinary person,that person becomes extraordinary because it's Vanessa Redgrave playing it.(Apologies to Pauline for the poor paraphrasing).

October 16,2011 | Unregistered Commenteradri

My first choice would be Julia,eventhough there is this unintentional funny moment my brother and I keep reminding about.Jane Fonda's Lillian is praising that Julia in college was at the peak of her beauty and what we watch is Vanessa walking through Campus right to the screen,all sweaty and sloppy.Sorry but that always gets me laughing.Don't get me wrong,Julia is one of my favorites films ever.
Camelot and Isadora would be other great choices,but what is really marvelous about her is that you can't choose a bad or mediocre performance of her even in her lesser films.Can you say that about many actresses?

October 16,2011 | Unregistered CommenterSeisgrados

any buzz on anonymous??she looks good it that

October 16,2011 | Unregistered Commenterdavid
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