Kaplan, Nelly 1936-

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KAPLAN, Nelly 1936-

PERSONAL: Born April 11, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina; daughter of Julio (a chemist) and Sima (a soprano singer; maiden name, Efron) Kaplan. Education: Attended school in Argentina; studied filmmaking with Abel Gance, 1954-64. Hobbies and other interests: Swimming.

ADDRESSES: Offıce—c/o Cythere Films, 34 Champs Elysees, 75008 Paris, France.

CAREER: Journalist for various Argentine newspapers; Cythere Films, Paris, France, assistant director, 1957-64, director, beginning 1967; scriptwriter and actress.

AWARDS, HONORS: Gold Lion, Venice Film Festival, 1967, for Le Regard Picasso; Gold Medal, Venice Film Festival, 1969, for La Fiancée du pirate; decorated chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, 1970, and officier des Arts et des Lettres, c. 1983; decorated chevalier, l'Ordre du Merite, 1989.



(With Claude Makovski; and director) La Fiancée du pirate (title means "The Pirate's Fiancee," also known as "Dirty Mary"), Universal, 1969, released in the United States as A Very Curious Girl, Universal, 1977.

(With Claude Makovski and Rene Guyoumet; and director) Papa les petits bateaux, [France], 1971.

(With Claude Makovski) Il faut vivre dangereusement (title means "One Must Live Dangerously"), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1974.

(With Jean Chapot; and director) Néa (title means "New Woman"), [France], 1976, released in the United States as Young Emanuelle.

(Under pseudonym Belen; with Jean Chapot and Claude Makovski; and director) Charles et Lucie, Nu-Image, 1979, released in the United States as Charles and Lucie, Avon, 1982.

(And director and producer) Abel Gance et son Napoléon, [France], 1983.

(And director) Pattes de Velours, [France], 1986.

(And director) Plaisir d'amour, Cythere Films, 1990.

Also author of Austerlitz (also known as The Battle of Austerlitz and Napoleone ad Austerlitz), 1960, and (with Claude Makovski) Au Verre de l'amitié, 1974. Author and director of Gustave Moreau (documentary short film), 1961; Rodolphe Bresdin 1825-1885 (documentary short film), 1961; Abel Gance, hier et demain (documentary short film), 1963; À la source, la femme aimée (documentary short film), 1965; Les Années 25, 1966; La Nouvelle orangerie, 1966; Dessins et merveilles (documentary short film), 1966; Le Regard Picasso, 1967.


Le Sunlight d'Austerlitz, Plon (Paris, France), 1960.

(Under pseudonym Belen) Le Collier de Ptyx (short stories), J. J. Pauvert (Paris, France), 1971.

Napoléon (film history), compiled and adapted by Bernard McGuirk, British Film Institute Publishing (London, England), 1994.

(Under pseudonym Belen) Le Réservoir des sens; suivi de, La Gardienne du Temps, illustrated by André Masson, Le Castor Astral (Pantin, France), 1995.

(Under pseudonym Belen) Aux orchidées sauvages (novel), Editions de la Différence (Paris, France), 1998.

Ils furent une étrange comète, Le Castor Astral (Bordeaux, France), 2002.

Film critic for Magazine Litteraire (Paris, France). Contributor to periodicals, including Women in Film. Also author of Manifeste d'un Art Nouveau: la Polyvision, 1954; (under pseudonym Belen) Le Réservoirdes sens (short stories), illustrated by André Masson, foreword by Philippe Soupault, 1966; and (under pseudonym Belen) Memoires d'une liseuse de draps (short stories), 1974.

Author of television scripts, with Jean Chapot, including Livingstone, 1980; La Tentation d'Antoine, 1981; Un Fait d'hiver, 1981; Ce fut un bel été, 1982; Regard dans le miroir, 1984; Honorin et la Lorelei, 1992; Polly West est de retour, 1992; Honorin et l'Enfant prodigue, 1993; and Les Mouettes, 1994.

SIDELIGHTS: Nelly Kaplan began her career as a journalist for various newspapers in Argentina. Upon meeting Abel Gance, the French filmmaker and pioneer of wide-screen techniques, she moved to France and became his assistant, collaborating closely with him for the next ten years. Known today as much for her directing as for her script-writing, Kaplan started by directing short documentary films on art. She gained her first international recognition with a one-hour documentary, Le Regard-Picasso, which won the Golden Lion Award at the 1967 Venice Film Festival. In 1969 she wrote, with Claude Makovski, a full-length feature film, La Fiancée du pirate, which she also directed. The film has been shown under the titles Dirty Mary and A Very Curious Girl. A caustically humorous movie, it appealed to both critics and audiences, enjoyed great success in France, and made the circuit of international film festivals.

Kaplan came to the attention of art-film critics in the United States for her work on Charles et Lucie, released in 1979 and shown in the United States as Charles and Lucie, starring Daniel Ceccaldi and Ginette Garcin. Kaplan wrote the script with Jean Chabot and Makovski, directed the film, and coedited it. The story involves a middle-aged couple whose poverty is magically transformed into wealth (or so they think) by the death of a remote relative who presumably has left Lucie a magnificent villa in the South of France. In a futile effort to secure her inheritance, Lucie loses the little money she has saved. There is no villa, in fact, and the tale ends sadly, although it remains whimsical throughout. Near the end of the film, Kaplan makes an on-screen appearance as Nostradamus, a fortuneteller who lives in a lavender van. She predicts that Charles and Lucie will come into money but offers no specifics, and her promise seems hollow. The film credits list Kaplan as "Belen," a pseudonym she also used for a short-story collection published more than a decade earlier. Janet Maslin, reviewing Charles and Lucie for the New York Times, observed that "it sometimes strikes a cheerfully absurd note." In the Los Angeles Times, critic Kevin Thomas called the film "delightful and touching," and summed up the work of the scriptwriter-director-editor-actress in his review: "her humor is more compassionate and generous than ever before and her characters are the kind who invite wide identification. Ever the feminist, she has nonetheless opened her heart and broadened her perspective. As a result, Charles et Lucie is probably the most satisfying and accessible of all her films."



Carlson, Diane, Linda Dittmar, and Janice Welsch, editors, Multiple Voices in Feminist Film Criticism, [Minneapolis, MN], 1991.

Cook, Pam, and Phillip Dodd, Women and Film: A Sight and Sound Reader, [Philadelphia, PA], 1993.

Johnson, Claire, editor, Notes on Women's Cinema, [London, England], 1974.

Kay, Karyn, and Gerald Peary, editors, Women and the Cinema: A Critical Anthology, [New York, NY], 1977.

Kuhn, Annette, Women's Pictures: Feminism and Cinema, [London, England], 1982.

Sebbag, George, Le Point sublime: André Breton, Arthur Rimbaud, et Nelly Kaplan, [Paris, France], 1997.

Williams, Alan, Republic of Images: A History of French Filmmaking, [Cambridge, MA], 1992.

Women Filmmakers and Their Films, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.


Film, January, 1984, "The Director."

Film Dope, March, 1984, "Nelly Kaplan."

Film Journal, August, 1980, E. Perchaluk, "The Film Journal Interviews Nelly Kaplan about Charles and Lucie."

Films and Filming, January, 1974, D. Elley, "Hiding It under a Bushel."

Los Angeles Times, August 29, 1980, Kevin Thomas, review of Charles and Lucie.

Ms., January, 1977, E. Lennard and N. L. Bernheim, "A Portfolio of European Directors."

Nation, May 24, 1980, Robert Hatch, review of Charles and Lucie.

New York Times, May 9, 1980, Janet Maslin, review of Charles et Lucie.

Observer (London, England), January 8, 1995, review of Napoléon, p. 21.

Symposium, spring, 1996, Stella Behar, review of Memoires d'une liseuse de draps, p. 3.

Velvet Light Trap, summer, 1973, K. Kay, "The Revenge of Pirate Jenny"; summer, 1973, D. Waldman, "The Eternal Return of Circe."*