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From perversion to purity

The stardom of Catherine Deneuve

Edited by: Lisa Downing and Sue Harris

Few screen icons have provoked as much commentary, speculation and adulation as the 'she' of this plaudit, Catherine Deneuve. This book begins with a brief overview of Deneuve's career, followed by a critical survey of the field of theoretical star studies, highlighting its potential and limitations for European, and particularly French, film scholarship. It argues the need for the single-star case study as a model for understanding the multiple signifying elements of transnational stardom. Her first role, at the age of 13, was a brief appearance as a schoolgirl in André Hunebelle's Collégiennes/The Twilight Girls. It was in 1965 that Roman Polanski would cast Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion, described by one critic as a 'one-woman show' in a role that would effectively create a persona which would resonate throughout her future film career. The darker shades of the Deneuve persona are in even greater evidence in Tristana. Demy's Donkey Skin is arguably an equal source of the tale's iconic status in France today, and largely because of Deneuve. The book also investigates films of the 1970s; their role in shaping her star persona and the ways in which they position Deneuve in relation to French political culture. The book considers exactly why directors gravitate towards Deneuve when trying to evoke or represent forms of female homosexual activity on film, and to consider exactly what such directors actually make Deneuve do and mean once they have her performing these particular forms of lesbian relation.

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Of faces and roles


Bill Marshall

Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark, Deneuve strayed from any established pattern of usually immaculate – if latterly degraded – image, with her role as Cathy, dowdy maternal guardian angel to the film’s tragic central figure, Selma (Björk). The notion of a star image dependent on forms of ‘degradation’ suggests a permanence of the screen persona created by a younger Deneuve – the order and control

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Najwa Nimri

The interaction of director and star


Ann Davies

still be perceived as stars precisely through their performance in film, regardless of any immersion in a celebrity culture that would be more familiar in the USA. Although Nimri’s personal life (the fact that she was married to Calparsoro) has impinged on the perception of her star persona, the latter is founded primarily on the roles she has undertaken. As Jordan and Allinson put it: ‘even the most performance-orientated actors still carry with them a “baggage” which is the sum of their portfolio of roles (and the extent to which these have been personification and

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Incongruous femininity

Catherine Deneuve and 1970s political culture

Bridget Birchall

Marion as an emblematic figure of on-screen and off-screen convergences, as a character who exists as product, consequence and extension of Deneuve’s star persona. That Truffaut should also have been revisiting his on and off-screen relationship with his former lover established in his film La Sirène du Mississippi ( Mississippi Mermaid, 1969) only adds a further layer of complexity to this

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Stephen Gundle

driver, housekeeper, seamstress and beach attendant was given the opportunity to tell his or her story. The tragedy of Claretta Petacci was a further theme that was often revisited. Strange angel Like most of the inter-war dictators, Mussolini was in some respects a star and his media persona exercised a shaping influence on the star system of his time. It is therefore useful to examine what happened to this in the postwar era. Mussolini had dominated the newsreels personally, but the values and motivations of the new Italian of the age of Mussolini were expressed in

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Becoming Mario

Performance and persona adaptation in Mario Casas’s career

Alberto Mira

only the beginning in comparison to the fame and significance he acquired after starring in Tres metros sobre el cielo, a Spanish adaptation of Federico Moccia´s bestselling Romeo and Juliet-​themed novel of young urban passion. If previous roles struck a chord with the female teen erotic and sentimental imagination, his part as Hache had a broader cultural impact. The combination between the previous ‘Mario Casas persona’ and these new characters overcame all expectations: intense, bold, prone to violence, rebellious, brimming with emotional pain, Hache seemed to

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Elizabeth I

The cinematic afterlife of an early modern political diva

Elisabeth Bronfen and Barbara Straumann

survival in Anglo-American visual culture. This is not least because she can be read subsequently as juggling the public persona with the private, that is, the natural (feminine, ageing, dying) body with a symbolic body that needed to constantly be reaffirmed as being eternal. As Ernst Kantorowicz famously writes in his classic study on the king’s two bodies in medieval and early modern culture, it is the union of body

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Mandy Merck

joined a long line of star actresses, including Bernhardt, Bette Davis, Flora Robson, Glenda Jackson and Judi Dench, in portraying the first Queen Elizabeth. But Mirren’s star persona has also retained the vein of rebellious sexiness embodied in her early stage roles as Shakespeare’s Cressida (1968) and Strindberg’s Miss Julie (1971), as well as an offscreen identification with progressive causes also

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Belle toujours

Deneuve as fashion icon

Fiona Handyside

Béart, Emmanuelle 11 , 96 , 146 , 149 , 156–7 , 159n.17 Beauvois, Xavier 131 Bell, David S. 78 Bendidi, Naguime 121 Bergman, Ingmar 71 , 113 , 122 , 126 Persona 126

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Felicity Chaplin

; he incarnates himself in them, and they become incarnate in him’ (38). Morin also makes a distinction between who can be considered a star and who an actor: in order to be a star, an actor must in some way play him or herself. A character actor, whose roles change, often dramatically, with each successive appearance, is not necessarily a star, no matter how well known they are. Unlike an actor, a star possesses a certain persona which is not simply reducible to the sum of the roles he or she plays, but which is nonetheless infected by these roles (Morin 38).1 For