My current Top 5

My current Top 5

3/15/2010

Best Actress 1965: Julie Christie in "Darling"

1965 was the year of Julie Christie. She starred in the successful epic Doctor Zhivago and in the stylish satire Darling for which she took home the Best Actress Oscar.

In Darling, Julie played Diana Scott, an immoral model who sleeps her way to the top.

What is simple astonishing about this performance is how perfect Julie Christie is – she totally inhabits the character of Diana to the point that she doesn’t seem to be acting anymore. She is completely natural at everything she is doing in this performance and that is a lot. Basically, the role of Diana is one big Oscar clip – she cries, she laughs, she screams, she loves, she hates, she is subtle, she is over-the-top. And Julie Christie is able to deliver this firework of emotions without ever making it seem unreal or overdone. She finds exactly the right tone for her character to fit her performance to the style of the movie.

Essentially, Diana is an awful human being – she may be charming and captivating in a way that it’s impossible to hold any grudge against her, but at the same time it’s apparent that she has no morals and doesn’t care the slightest bit about other people. She always starts something new until she gets bored with it, leaves everyone and everything behind and starts something new again until she gets bored with that, too. But finally she does something new that she can’t get out again – she marries an Italian prince. And when she gets bored again, there is no way out for her anymore.

Julie Christie flawlessly shows that Diana is not evil. She never hurts anyone on purpose – she just doesn’t know any better. In her world, only her interests count. She is rather childlike in this perspective – when she wants something, then she won’t rest until she has it. But suddenly she finds something or someone else and from now on, this is the most important thing for her. And in her views, she never really hurts anyone because what’s best for her must also be best for everyone else. Because Diana is such a fascinating, exotic and stunningly beautiful woman, she tends to get away with everything which only encourages her in her behavior. She simply never wastes a thought about other people, she is simple the kind of person who is only looking after her own interests.

When something doesn’t go the way she planned it, then Diana seems to become confused, surprised and takes the way that most children would take – she cries. These tears are wonderfully fake and real at the same time. Real because Diana is crying but also fake because she is only doing it to get what she wants. Julie Christie balances this wonderfully.

She also handles all the more dramatic and exhausting scenes perfectly. Her long walk of desperation through her empty castle is a very impressive moment, just as her big fight scenes with Dirk Bogarde which are just as convincing as her more joyful moments.

Julie Christie certainly inhabits the character of Diana like nobody else could have.

But even though the role of Diana is a real showcase on any level, it never really goes beyond the big emotions and grand gestures. Julie Christie perfectly understands who Diana is and is so able to fill her with much more depth and complexity than the screenplay demands but at the same time this works against her because the screenplay never allows her character to grow. Instead it is the world around her that is changing. Because of that, Julie’s performance tends to repeat itself - she is charming and lovely, then gets bored, then angry, she starts to scream and to cry, then she is charming and lovely again, then she gets bored, then she acts angry and then starts to scream and to cry. It’s all done very impressively but the viewer has basically seen everything after 30 minutes while the movie keeps going for another 2 hours.

Still, Julie Christie wonderfully carries this story and brings a very memorable character to life. For this, she gets

3 comments:

Sage Slowdive said...

Hmmmm...I hope Samantha Eggar works well with you...I thought she was great.

joe burns said...

I would give her four and a half! Very impressive performance, but I still feel that Julie Andrews should have won. Great writeup though!

Fritz said...

Yes, it would be easy to give her 4,5 but somehow she feels more like a 4 to me. :-)