Timeless: Sharon Stone

Timelessness, the fourth film in the Auerbach series, is a meditation on the bewitchment of timespace by Sharon Stone.

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One should not think of Stone as just a sex symbol: every generation has its slew of vamps, most of which leave no dent in memory. Most of the smokeshows will age into air, but the femme fatale lingers.

Nobody decides to be a femme fatale, of course: she is elected by Fate, and set on her inexorable path. In this sense, Stone was a watershed; a moment in Time, and it is Time’s affair with Fate that Auerbach glimpses in his most gothic photoshoot of the entire series. 

A prodigy equally blessed with prodigious good looks, Stone dropped out of college before it was fashionable—1977!—to pursue a career as a model that soon segued into acting. Her career—a true, dramatic one, replete with fearless highs and lows—is bookended by auteurs, from Allen to Scorsese. Her role in Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct (1992) was third-eye opening: part Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity (1944), part Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange (1971).

Of almost equal interest to the sharp observer are the duds. The only other contemporary actress with a similarly jagged critical trajectory is Halle Berry (with the convergence of the two in Catwoman marking some manner of event horizon in the history of film). But in Stone’s case, Peter Travers’ remark about her has held like a geometric proof: she’s been “the bright spot in too many dull movies”—and the highlight in several great ones.

This is the implacable brightness, the brilliance that Auerbach captures in his 2010 photoshoot of her for Madame Figaro. When he describes how Stone fills—and augments—derelict space with the fluid authority of “a cat”, he is describing a suspension in time known as epoché (that’s far less frequently recalled as fairy time). His photoshoot shows Sharon Stone not as a symbol but a documented fact; hard evidence of Old Holly-wood glamour still at work, and still at large. “La belle Dame sans merci / Hath thee in thrall!”

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Posts in this series

Efficiency: Mike Tyson

Adaptation: Benedict Cumberbatch

Announcing Captured Moment: The Master’s Process