Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vanessa Redgrave: "She Has Greatness"

I recently watched the 2010 film Atonement, and found myself once again quite moved by the phenomenally gifted Vanessa Redgrave – and she was only in this particular film for the last ten minutes! It's not just her acting that I've long admired but also her activism around a number of human rights issues. In short, she's definitely someone I'd love to have over for one of my dinner parties!

Of her many films, I would say that my favorites include Julia (1977), Mrs Dalloway (1997) and The Fever (2004). And of course, her portrayal of the neurotic Sister Jeanne in Ken Russell's The Devils (1971) will tell you more about Catholic masochism than you'd probably ever want to know. Oh, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing her in the recently released Coriolanus, directed by Ralph Fiennes. According to a number of reviews it's quite the tour de force. (See, for example, here and here.)

Above: Screenwriter John Logan, actors Vanessa Redgrave, Gerard Butler,
Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain attend the Coriolanus photocall
during the 61st Berlin International Film Festival – February 14, 2011.

Did you know that according to actress and playwright Imogen Stubbs, Redgrave's performance in Haymarket Theatre's 1988-89 run of Orpheus Descending is the best performance she's ever seen?

Here's how Stubbs glowingly describes Redgrave's acting in a piece she wrote for the March 6, 2010 issue of The Guardian:

Vanessa acts out of instinct – she is an incredibly risky actress. I don't know if it is strategic or how her heart takes her. . . . She has greatness – charisma, bottle, daring, insanity. It is not even technically controlled. You know when an actor is cheating. But Vanessa has that element of catharsis. She is a great role model. I have worked with her and sometimes her decisions in rehearsals are mystifying: she has eccentric, extraordinary, not-to-be analysed instinct.

Recommended Off-site Links:
The Saturday Interview: Vanessa Redgrave – Stuart Jeffries (The Guardian, September 9, 2011).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Natasha Richardson, 1963-2009
Lynn Redgrave, 1943-2010
Something We Dare Call Hope . . .
Letting Them Sit By Me

Image 1: Photographer unknown.
Image 2: Pascal Le Segretain.
Image 3: Brigitte Lacombe.

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