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Charlotte: watch the trailer for Keira Knightley’s heartfelt animated biopic featuring Helen McCrory

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The trailer for Keira Knightley’s acclaimed animated biopic Charlotte has landed, featuring one of the last performances from Helen McCrory.

What do Keira Knightley, Jim Broadbent, Brenda Blethyn, Sam Claflin, Eddie Marsan, Sophie Okonedo, Mark Strong and the late Helen McCrory all have in common?

Apart from being major acting talents, they’re also the stars of the forthcoming animated movie Charlotte. Based on a true story, the drama follows a pioneering young German-Jewish artist whose life was cut short during the second world war when she was murdered in Auschwitz. 

The feature, from Good Deed Entertainment, the studio behind the Oscar-nominated Loving Vincent, looks to bring the story of the incredible artist to a wider audience by way of a beautiful animated biopic.

According to the film’s official synopsis, Charlotte chronicles the life of Charlotte Salomon, a young German-Jewish painter who comes of age in Berlin on the eve of the second world war. 

Charlotte
Keira Knightley stars in the upcoming animated biopic Charlotte

“Fiercely imaginative and deeply gifted, she dreams of becoming an artist. Her first love applauds her talent, which emboldens her resolve. 

“But the world around her is changing quickly and dangerously, limiting her options and derailing her dream. When anti-Semitic policies inspire violent mobs, she leaves Berlin for the safety of the south of France. There she begins to paint again and finds new love. 

“But her work is interrupted, this time by a family tragedy that reveals an even darker secret. Believing that only the extraordinary will save her, she embarks on the monumental adventure of painting her life story.”

Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley gives voice to Charlotte Salomon in the upcoming animated movie

As we’ve previously mentioned, Keira Knightley takes on the role of protagonist Charlotte, alongside a remarkably starry voicecast, which includes the brilliant Helen McCrory, who died of cancer in April 2021. Marion Cotillard, meanwhile, handles the role of Charlotte in the French language version of the film.

Speaking to Variety, producer Julia Rosenberg said she believed the film would “connect with young creative women”.

“It’s a war story, it’s a refugee story, but it’s really a biopic of an artist who’s been overlooked,” she explained. “She invented the graphic memoir, she played with autofiction and did all of these conceptual things that are now widely used. She’s one of the great artists of the 20th century.”

“I was blissfully ignorant of how animation is normally developed, which is through storyboarding,” she recalled. “Not knowing that, I developed this as I would a live-action film and spent four years working on the screenplay with Erik Rutherford, who did a lot of very heavy lifting. Then writer David Bezmozgis came on and worked on geometrically refining the character development – it was a lovely collaboration.”

The spine-tingling trailer also gives a closer look at Charlotte’s story. We see the young artist apply to go to art school, only to be informed about “the unfortunate matter of your race”, as well as the brutality of the Nazi invasion as the Jewish community are rounded up and attacked. 

After fleeing to the south of France, Charlotte ploughs her energies into painting. “Only by doing something mad can I hope to stay sane,” she says as German planes fly overhead. “I’m going to paint the story of my life and I don’t know how much time I have left.

“What matters is not that life loves us, but that we love life”.

Charlotte premieres in the US from 22 April, with a UK release date to follow.

Images: Getty; Good Deed Entertainment

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is Stylist's Entertainment Editor whose specialist interests include pop culture, LGBTQ+ identity and lore.