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Isadora (1968)

A remarkable film by any standards, Isadora is based on two works: My Life by Isadora Duncan (a dancer in the 1920s who forever changed people’s ideas of ballet with her nude, semi-nude and pro-Soviet dance projects – as well as her attitudes on lifestyle and free love) and An Intimate Portrait by Sewell Stokes.

It is a wonderfully offbeat biography movie as witnessed through the eyes and imagination of its extraordinary protagonist. The film is as eccentric as its subject.

The film – with flashbacks and flashforwards – is framed by Isadora’s dictating her reminiscences to Stokes (called Roger in the film) in a hotel room in Nice and finished with her ghastly death shortly afterwards.

While the film may be total confusion and a possible bore to those who prefer their movie narratives completely coherent and proceeding in a relatively straightforward manner from one scene to another, Isadora is certainly a connoisseur’s piece to be relished by those desirous of something excitingly original and stylish. And Vanessa Redgrave is positively stunning in the title role.

Directed by Karel Reisz, Isadora impresses for both its visual brilliance and its thoroughly inspired performances from Jason Robards and James Fox as her lovers Paris Singer and Gordon Craig, and Bessie Love as Isadora’s mother.

The French-English co-production was retitled for its American release as The Loves of Isadora.

Isadora Duncan
Vanessa Redgrave
John Fraser
Gordon Craig
James Fox
Paris Singer
Jason Robards
Sergei Essenin
Ivan Tchenko (Zvonimir Crnko)
Vladimir Leskovar
Mary Desti
Cynthia Harris
Mrs Duncan
Bessie Love
Raymond Duncan
Tony Vogel
Elizabeth Duncan
Libby Glenn
Miss Chase
Ronnie Gilbert
Wallas Eaton
Nicholas Pennell
John Quentin
Christian Duvaleix

Karel Reisz