During her exile in southern France in the early 1940s, Charlotte Salomon created, with works encompassing around 800 sheets measuring 32.5 cm x 25 cm, what today would be referred to as a graphic novel. With expressive gouache pictures full of colour and movement as well as texts, she recreated both her own life and that of her family back in Berlin. She called this cycle of paintings “Life? or Theater? A lyrical drama”. The work is a personal epic, one that takes on a tone at times humorous and at others contemplative, and which the artist divided into acts and scenes: meeting her parents during the First World War, the many suicides in her maternal family (including that of her mother), her birth in 1917, her love for her stepmother, for painting and music, the seizure of power by the National Socialists, her romance with the singing teacher Amadeus Daberlohn and her flight to the Côte d'Azur. Featuring the voices of renowned actors such as Vicky Krieps, Mathieu Amalric and Hanna Schygulla this remarkable animated film uses, in addition to Charlotte Salomon's paintings, photos of her family and excerpts from newsreels and silent films. Directors Delphine & Muriel Coulin succeed here in creating an amusing yet touching homage to an artist of great importance who was murdered in Auschwitz at the age of only 26.
Text: Kira Taszman
English: Peter Rickerby