Chaplin, Geraldine


Chaplin, Geraldine
(1944- )
   The daughter of Charlie Chaplin and Oona O'Neill (and granddaughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill) was born in Santa Monica, California, and has a varied international career spanning six decades and several countries. She debuted as a little girl in her father's limelight, and became noticed with her portrayal of the gentle bourgeois Tonya in the international hit Doctor Zhivago (David Lean, 1965). She would go on to have a substantial career in Hollywood, where she gave three great supporting performances for Robert Altman in Nashville (1975), Buffalo Bill and the Indians (1976), and A Wedding (1978), and she was the tough protagonist of Alan Rudolph's Remember My Name (1978), where she played a woman seeking revenge. She also worked in Great Britain, France, and Germany, but it was arguably in Spain where her work has been more consistent.
   While shooting Doctor Zhivago in Spain, she met Carlos Saura, and they lived together until the late 1970s, a period during which she also became the director's muse, with substantial parts credited in eight of his films: Peppermint Frappé (1967), Estrés es tres tres (Stress Is Three Three, 1978), La madriguera (Honeycomb, 1969), Ana y los lobos (Ana and the Wolves, 1973), Cría cuervos (Raise Ravens, 1976), Elisa, vida mía, (Elisa, My Life, 1977), Los ojos vendados (Blindfolded Eyes, 1978), and Mamá cumple cien años (Mama Is One Hundred, 1979). Taken together, these films constitute something of a love letter to her introspective and somewhat ethereal personality, and a tribute to her expressive face. Saura's long takes, particularly in Cría cuervos and Elisa, vida mía evidence a complexity of characterization and a storm of emotions, pain, and joy that turn these into one of the great collaborations between an actress and a director, not less intense than the one between Pedro Almodóvar and Carmen Maura or even Josef Von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich.
   After her last collaboration with Saura, Geraldine Chaplin worked less and less in Spanish cinema, concentrating on supporting roles in commercial Hollywood productions like The Mirror Crack'd [ 1980 ], The Moderns (1988), Chaplin (1992), The Age of Innocence (1993), and The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2006), or in international projects in Europe, such as La vie est un roman (1981) and Les uns et les autres (1983).
   In recent years, she has returned to Spanish film, where she has attained an iconic status. Pedro Almodovar explained how he needed someone with a strong presence and authority to play the dance teacher in Hable con ella (Talk to Her, 2002). She has also given intense, supporting performances in En la ciudad sin límites (In the City Without Limits, Antonio Hernández, 2002), playing a domineering mother, a role for which she was awarded a Goya; as Mother Abbess in Teresa, el cuerpo de Cristo (Teresa, Body of Christ, Ray Loriga, 2007); and as a medium in El orfanato (The Orphanage, Juan Antonio Bayona, 2007).
   Historical Dictionary of Spanish Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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