Years ago the late Barry Norman – journalist and film critic – clearly somewhat enamoured with Charlotte, coined the verb “to rample” (although clearly not in many major dictionaries – autocorrect takes a very dim view of the word). He noticed that through time it had come to mean: ‘reducing someone to helplessness though a chilly, mysterious sexuality.’ Or as The New Yorker put it once – ‘ensorcell with an enigmatic gaze’. Norman was rather put out as his original definition in his own words was slightly more naughty. As in: ‘Do you like Rampling?’ ‘I don’t know, you naughty thing, I’ve never rampled.’
Rampling has always known that she’s beautiful – she spent two years as a leading fashion model before a film career began with Richard Lester’s The Knack (1965). But she told the Guardian in 2014, despite having a million people take photographs of her that she felt it particularly important not to “have a relationship with your image, YOU SHOULD NOT!” Adding in the same article: ‘Since the beginning, I’ve said, ‘I’m not going to get involved with my image. Do Not Look. Just a glance to check the picture’s OK, maybe, but that’s all. “You just glimpse,” she says. “You don’t go into it.” That way narcissism lies. “It’s selfie selfie selfie, Facebook Facebook Facebook, Facetime Facetime Facetime.”
The daughter of an artist and an Olympic gold medalist called Geoffrey Rampling (he won a gold medal in the 4x400m relay at the 1936 Berlin Olympics), she was born in 1946 in Sturmer, England and educated at close by private school called St. Hilda’s and later at Jeanne d’Arc Academie pour Jeunes Filles in Versailles.
Her most infamous role, in Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter, about the sadomasochistic relationship between an SS officer, played by Dirk Bogarde, and a concentration camp survivor, was criticised by many contemporary critics, and banned in some countries.
Years later Rampling countered this criticism:
I generally don’t make films to entertain people, I choose the parts that challenge me to break through my own barriers. A need to devour, punish, humiliate, or surrender seems to be a primal part of human nature, and it’s certainly a big part of sex. To discover what normal means, you have to surf a tide of weirdness.
Charlotte Rampling, Jan 1967 – photo John Pratt
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