CHARLOTTE opened the Spokane Jewish Film Festival this weekend. I was lucky to be one of the committee members who made the top selections from a list of over thirty movies. CHARLOTTE is based on a true story. It is a compelling anime concerning the life of Charlotte Solomon who was an extraordinary painter. 

CHARLOTTE grew up in Berlin and France during pre-World War II and until her death in 1943. She lived only 26 years, but her short life had a tremendous effect on the art world. She was born to paint snippets of what she observed. In the beginning, her work was lighter and full of joy, but as death, war, destruction, and fear took over the world, her art became infused with sadness. She once said that painting “sad made her life feel true. Only by painting something made her feel sane.” What a terrible time in history to be young, talented and Jewish. 

CHARLOTTE not only showed the atrocities of those years, but also shined a light on mental illness that was prevalent in her family genes. Depression, utter anguish, murder, and family emotional abuse were strong themes as well. But through it all, CHARLOTTE was loved and cared for by those around her. Her greatest achievement was a collection of over one thousand paintings depicting her “LIFE? OR THEATRE?” which is held at the Jewish Historical Museum, in Amsterdam. Charlotte’s work is said to be the very first graphic novel. 

The anime created for this film was soft and pastel. This allowed Charlotte’s art to take center stage. She was expressively voiced by Kiera Knightly.  Other strong performances were created by Marion Cotillard, Jim Broadbent, and Sam Claflin. Stirring moments that touched the audience’s hearts. At times, you could hear the gasps and tears as CHARLOTTE’s story unfolded. No one got up as the credits came on screen. There was just silence. 

CHARLOTTE Is a film that invokes discussion. It is not an easy movie to watch. It will stay with you long after. It is inspiring, thought-provoking, even amid the disgust of such loss of life. Charlotte said “it does not matter if life loves you. What matters is that you love life.” I wish she had experienced both kinds of love during her brief time on earth. 

CHARLOTTE is available on HULU or to rent on AMAZON. 

Esta Rosevear

Esta Rosevear has been a Theatre Arts teacher and director for 35+ years, published Children’s author of the Rebecca series, and is passionate about playing her violin, walking, gardening, and reading murder mysteries.

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