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Isabelle Huppert – Iron Lady of French Cinema

Isabelle Huppert proudly bears the status of an unshakable icon of French cinema from the seventies. For more than forty years, she has been fascinating, fascinating, frightening with her contradictory heroines – sometimes fragile and defenseless, then cold and tough. The actress herself almost does not react to such labels relating to herself, she does not confirm them, but does not dispute them either. Outside of cinema and in conversations not about cinema or theater, she generally prefers to remain silent.

Isabelle Huppert Isabelle Huppert was born in Ville d’Evray on March 16, 1953, in the family of an entrepreneur and English teacher. It was the most classic “decent family” with all the leisure activities and ways of education that ensued. In total, the Huppert family had five children – four girls (Isabelle, Carolyn, Elizabeth, Jacqueline) and Remy’s son.

The Huppert family traveled a lot, children from an early age visited the theater, cinema, museums, exhibitions, but even then Isabelle did not have a desire to devote herself to the stage or movie screen. She thought about becoming a nurse or a figure skater, and later studied at the Versailles Conservatory, at the University, where she studied Slavic and Oriental languages, then studied at the National School of Living Oriental Languages, which she never finished. By that time, Isabelle, following the instructions of her mother, was already seriously engaged in theatrical art, first in courses, and then at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Art.

A small role in the television movie Pruss in 1971 was followed by more significant work by Nina Kompaneyets in the film Faustin and a Beautiful Summer, where another famous Isabelle of French cinema, Adjani, starred. Already at an early stage of work in theater and cinema, thanks to a delicate psychological game with all the subtle nuances, Hupper received from critics and journalists the label of an intellectual cinema actress who does not lose her shelf life to this day. She never tried to deliberately break these cliches, only smiling cunningly about this: “Let me be considered an intellectual rather than an idiot.”

Isabelle Huppert, Lacemaker, 1977
The Lacemaker, 1977
In the late seventies, the fateful meeting of the actress-muse and the director-Pygmalion took place. Huppert met Claude Chabrol, receiving another label – “Chabrole actress.” He starred in seven films, none of which were left without an honorary international film award. The first collaboration, Violetta Noziere, 1978, brought the 25-year-old Huppert Silver Award for Best Actress for the Cannes Film Festival.

Exactly 10 years later, in 1988, Hupper at the Venice Film Festival will receive the Volpi Cup for Best Actress in the drama “Women’s Business”. The film, staged by Chabrol, is a film interpretation of the real story of Marie-Louise Giraud, the last woman executed in France for conducting clandestine abortions during the German occupation. In this role, Huppert once again showed her many-sided dramatic talent: strength and rigidity are intertwined in her heroine, behind which are fragility, defenselessness and confusion.

Isabelle Huppert, Women
“Women’s business”, 1988
The last role of the director Isabelle Huppert played in 2006 in “Comedy of Power.” Almost 30 years of cooperation with the master left vivid emotional experiences in the soul of the actress. She compared his work with the feeling of being in a spacious cage – there was a feeling of flying, but at the same time it was necessary to observe boundaries.
In the eighties, Huppert starred in Jean-Luc Godard, Marco Ferreri, Bertrand Blieu, Maurice Piala, Diana Curie, Josiane Balasco. During this period, she diligently makes her filmography more diverse, as the journalists were sure, in order to save herself from the attached role of the actress for the author’s psychological cinema. In 1985, she starred in Charlotte’s Signature, a screenplay written and screened by her own sister, Carolyn Huppert.

Creative activity and recognition of professionals was not limited for Huppert to a period of youth and fruitful eighties. In 1991, she won a prize at the Moscow Film Festival as the best actress in the film Madame Bovary, in 1995-1996 she again received the Volpi Cup in Venice (along with Sandrine Bonner, her partner in the film Ceremony of the Crime), the Cesar Prize and Lumiere. In 2001, the “Pianist” brought Huppert a new award in Cannes and a prize from the European Film Academy, and in the same year, detective “Thank you for chocolate” by Claude Chabrol provided the actress with a new statuette “Lumiere” and the prize of the Montreal Film Festival. Having collected an impressive collection of the most prestigious film awards, Isabelle Huppert begins to receive special awards for her contribution to the cinema, but she does not stop being nominated in acting categories.

Isabelle Huppert and Claude Chabrol comedy of power
With Claude Chabrolle on the set of “Comedy of Power”, 2006
Also, she does not stop following her “native” role, often playing cruel mothers or just iron ladies. The actress fully realized the role of mother in life.

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