Hooked on Clas­sics

Char­lie Chap­lin pro­vides a poignant link be­tween the worlds of film and horol­ogy for one of Jaeger-lecoul­tre’s brand am­bas­sadors, writes Em­i­lie Yabut-ra­zon

Hong Kong Tatler - - Style -

With­out restoration, old movies would be doomed to dis­ap­pear,” Carmen Chap­lin, the grand­daugh­ter of one of the greats of 20th-cen­tury film­mak­ing, Char­lie Chap­lin, told the gath­er­ing at a Jaeger-lecoul­tre auc­tion dur­ing the Shang­hai In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val in June. It was her first trip to the fes­ti­val as an am­bas­sador for the watch brand, which is in­volved in a project to re­store clas­sic Chi­nese films and pre­serve them for pos­ter­ity in ul­tra-high­def­i­ni­tion dig­i­tal form. “I’m a fan of old movies, and restoration al­lows us to see films such as my grand­fa­ther’s in their full glory,” the ac­tress and di­rec­tor said.

Since the project be­gan in 2011, Jaegerlecoul­tre has helped re­store 10 films us­ing the lat­est dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing the 1947 clas­sics The Spring River Flows East and Eight Thou­sand Li of Cloud and

Moon, both star­ring Bai Yang and Tao Jin and ac­knowl­edged as among the great­est 20th-cen­tury Chi­nese films. A more re­cent ben­e­fi­ciary of the project is Hong Kong di­rec­tor Derek Yee Tung-shing’s award­win­ning 1993 film End­less Love, star­ring Anita Yuen, Lau Ching-wan and Ca­rina Lau.

As well as con­nect­ing Carmen to the his­tory of film, her comic-ge­nius grand­fa­ther pro­vides a link be­tween the brand am­bas­sador and the her­itage of Jaegerlecoul­tre. In 1953, when Char­lie moved his fam­ily from the US to set­tle in Switzer­land, the gov­ern­ment wel­comed him with a gift to hon­our his tal­ent and con­tri­bu­tion to film­mak­ing. The can­ton of Vaud pre­sented him with a Jaeger-lecoul­tre Me­movox. “It’s the only watch I know he owned,” Carmen said. Her grand­fa­ther had handed it down to her fa­ther, who in turn would give it to one of her broth­ers, she said.

Be­fore be­com­ing an am­bas­sador for Jaeger-lecoul­tre, Carmen was in­vited to con­trib­ute to the brand’s 180th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions in 2013 by writ­ing and di­rect­ing a short film, A Time for Every­thing. The project in­volved three gen­er­a­tions of women from her fam­ily—carmen, her mother and

her daugh­ter—and sym­bol­ised the pass­ing of ideas from one gen­er­a­tion to the next. The movie also drew to­gether Jaeger-lecoul­tre’s rich her­itage as a watch­maker and its com­mit­ment to the world of cin­ema.

Char­lie Chap­lin is not Carmen’s only fa­mous rel­a­tive. She comes from an il­lus­tri­ous fam­ily of artists, which in­cludes Pulitzer Prize-win­ning play­wright Eu­gene O’neill. Her fa­ther and sis­ter are both ac­tors, and her mother and ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther are painters. Com­ing from such a cre­ative gene pool, it’s no won­der Carmen’s in­ter­est turned to­wards film at an early age. “I have al­ways loved watch­ing films, and get­ting to act in a film when you are work­ing with a ta­lented di­rec­tor is thrilling,” she said dur­ing the Shang­hai fes­ti­val. “It’s al­ways won­der­ful to see new films from dif­fer­ent coun­tries and cul­tures that I wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily get to see… it is very in­spir­ing. Also, as a ca­sual dresser I en­joy get­ting dressed up for the red car­pet wear­ing beau­ti­ful watches from the brand.”

Carmen has been a fa­mil­iar face on the sil­ver screen since 1993, when she ap­peared in French di­rec­tor An­dré Téch­iné’s My

Favourite Sea­son, star­ring Cather­ine Deneuve and Daniel Au­teuil. Her fil­mog­ra­phy since then in­cludes roles with Ewan Mcgre­gor in Philippe Rous­selot’s 1997 drama The Ser­pent’s

Kiss and with Eva Men­dez in the 2002 com­edy All About the Ben­jamins.

The 2012 short film Tryst in Paname, star­ring her sis­ter Dolores, was Carmen’s di­rec­to­rial de­but. She is cur­rently work­ing on her first fea­ture film as di­rec­tor, Bom­bay

Nights, which will be shot in In­dia. “I am ex­cited at the prospect of di­rect­ing a fea­ture film and of fin­ish­ing the screen­play I am writ­ing,” she said. “Di­rect­ing is such a com­plete ex­pe­ri­ence for me as I love ev­ery stage of it. It’s so in­spir­ing when I get to col­lab­o­rate with ta­lented artists, whether it’s the art depart­ment, mu­sic com­posers or the ac­tors.” Carmen finds ev­ery as­pect of life in­spir­ing. “I strive to be present here and now, and ap­pre­ci­ate what ev­ery day brings… I just wish I could write down sto­ries as fast as I imag­ine them.”


BRIGHT TAL­ENT Ac­tress and di­rec­tor Carmen Chap­lin is Jaeger-lecoul­tre’s lat­est brand am­bas­sador

MAKEOVER MIS­SION From left: Since 2011, Jaeger-lecoul­tre has been sup­port­ing the restoration of clas­sic Chi­nese films; Chap­lin at a shoot; Jaegerlecoul­tre’s Ren­dez-vous Moon was auc­tioned to fund the restoration project

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