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Marlene1984

  • 4.3
MARLENE is a portrait that brilliantly lifts the veil on a movie star of the brightest magnitude as she is fading into twilight. In September of 1982, Academy Award® winning actor and director Maximillian Schell (THE MAN IN THE GLASS BOOTH) arrived in Paris for a series of on-camera interviews with Marlene Dietrich intended for a documentary film on the screen icon's life and work. Despite having agreed to participate, the near-recluse Dietrich withdrew permission for her JUDGMENT AT NUREMBURG co-star to film in her flat. Instead, in over forty hours of audio-taped interviews, the 81 year-old screen legend provoked a battle royale of conversational mind games leading to unforgettably raw and truthful emotional revelations. Schell uses Dietrich's candid, bruising, infuriating and occasionally touching off-camera musings on childhood, marriage, sex, love, collaborators, co-stars, life, death and the Holocaust.

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5 members like this review

I remember reading a four-star review of "Marlene" nearly 30 years ago when it first came out... it sounded absolutely fascinating and I couldn't wait to see it. Problem was, it was 30 years ago, there was no streaming video, and the movie didn't come to any of my local theaters.

The film eluded me until, wonder of wonders, there it was on Fandor. I'm pleased to report that it didn't disappoint, even after so long a wait. Dietrich seems not to have been photographed for the purposes of the film (although that fact, like many other aspects of the film, is definitely in question). Poor Schell (director and interviewer): Dietrich is fabulously difficult with him throughout. But when she finally does relent - I'm thinking of the discussion of "Judgment at Nuremberg"or when she admits to Schell that she's more of a dreamer than she prefers to let on - it's magical.

Great viewing for any classic film fan or for someone who likes an offbeat documentary. The film features many clips of Dietrich giving concerts later on in her career; I didn't know about these concerts so the clips were a treat.

So, so glad this wasn't anything like a conventional biopic. This film bears a lot more of a resemblance in style and approach to "Grey Gardens" than it does to, say, "La Vie en Rose," and this reviewer thinks that's as it should be. The subject deserved better (and got it).

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Member Reviews (17)

90007.small
top reviewer

I remember reading a four-star review of "Marlene" nearly 30 years ago when it first came out... it sounded absolutely fascinating and I couldn't wait to see it. Problem was, it was 30 years ago, there was no streaming video, and the movie didn't come to any of my local theaters.

The film eluded me until, wonder of wonders, there it was on Fandor. I'm pleased to report that it didn't disappoint, even after so long a wait. Dietrich seems not to have been photographed for the purposes of the film (although that fact, like many other aspects of the film, is definitely in question). Poor Schell (director and interviewer): Dietrich is fabulously difficult with him throughout. But when she finally does relent - I'm thinking of the discussion of "Judgment at Nuremberg"or when she admits to Schell that she's more of a dreamer than she prefers to let on - it's magical.

Great viewing for any classic film fan or for someone who likes an offbeat documentary. The film features many clips of Dietrich giving concerts later on in her career; I didn't know about these concerts so the clips were a treat.

So, so glad this wasn't anything like a conventional biopic. This film bears a lot more of a resemblance in style and approach to "Grey Gardens" than it does to, say, "La Vie en Rose," and this reviewer thinks that's as it should be. The subject deserved better (and got it).

5 members like this review

So worth it. Just hearing her that late in her life, trying to preserve a shell like exterior, and being cranky with Schell is fascinating.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

not much of a film, more like an unpleasant preproduction meeting.

A fascinating, ground-breaking documentary stylistically but Dietrich is so delusional, so impossible to reach that it quickly became irritating to listen to her ramblings. And yet the final minutes were heart-breaking.

The tension between director and star make this film worthwhile

Insufferable! Self-indulgent cinematography that showed nothing of interest, poor sound and non-existent pacing. A collection of Dietrich film clips would have been preferable. While her views on many topics might have been interesting, I couldn't sit through all the preliminaries to hear it. Coming from a pro like Maximillian Schell it's particularly disappointing.

It is one of the strangest of documentaries I have ever seen. The inteviewer Maximilian Schell is constantly fighting with Marlena Dietrich who doesn't give an inch, By her request and a previous agreement, one never sees her present self in the film. My guess is because shes does not to be seen as she looks today. She reveals almost nothing about herself churlishly pushing back her his questions. His solution is to contrast her words with clips from many of her movies. Particularly if you have a touch of masochism in you (at one moment Marline also calls Maximilian a masochist towards the end), the result is a very fascinating movie about the struggle between two egos (guess who finally wins)--also it is delightful to have such wonderful clips from her hay days.

Fantastic.

She is totally authentic and beautiful.There is a strength in her voice and her comments.I love her sentimental approach to being in now and not dreaming.She created as she went without fuss,she just did her craft with all her essence.The documentary delivers that powerfully.

The great Marlene. Bitter and bitchy at the end. Enjoyable for historical musings.

Always wanted to see this interview. So glad Fandor had it available. A 10

brillant both the film and the subject.

Amazing testimony of a uniquely private Marlene. Great direction by Maximillian Schell. A must see... simply brilliant with authenticity!

Marlene was not a pleasant woman.

she was an artist with much non verbal imagination, which was deftly caught in this film.

I was fascinated that Marlene read Heinrich Boll- so do I. We are still trying to digest that era when

Boll was at the front lines even though Marlene won't admit it. Otherwise why is she reading Boll?

IT IS OBVIOUS BY THIS MOVIE THAT MARLENE WAS A WONDERFUL PERSON. M.S. AND SHE OBVIOUSLY HAD A CONTRACT TO DO THIS DOC. AND FURTHER M.S. WANTED CARTE BLANCHE ABOVE AND BEYOND WHAT THE CONTRACT CALLED FOR. MARLENE GAVE IT HER ALL TO GIVE HIM WHAT HE WANTED, WHEN ALL HE WANTED WAS TO HAVE MORE THAN WAS TRULY AGREED UPON. WHEN MARLENE CONSISTENTLY PULLED IN THE REIGNS ON HIM, HE KEPT ON PUSHING FOR SOME UNKNOWN, ESPECIALLY UNKNOWN TO MARLENE, AND I BELIEVE UNKNOWN TO M.S. AS WELL....BUT HE KEPT PUSHING UNTIL HE TRULY ANGERED THE GREAT AND WONDERFUL AND VERY LOVING AND GIVING AND MOST PROFESSIONAL, MARLENE UNTIL SHE BECAME ANGRY. AND THEN SHE LET HIM KNOW THAT HE NEEDED TO GET HIS MANNERS IN, AND PERHAPS NEEDED TO GO BACK TO HIS MOTHER TO GET THOSE LESSONS LEARNED. THE END WAS A SPOILED LITTLE BOY WHO COULDN'T GET HIS WAY AND THUS HE TRIED TO SHOW MARLENE AS A DIFFICULT DIVA AND I DIDN'T FALL FOR THAT ONE MINUTE. ALTHOUGH IT ALSO SEEMED SYMBOLIC OF MARLENE NOT WANTING MORE PICTURES MADE OF HER WITH ALL THE FILM AND CAMERAS COMING AT HER AND HER DELIBERATELY ABSENT FROM VIEW AT THIS TIME. THE DOC. ACCOUNT OF MARLENE THAT SHOWS HER ACTUALLY GOING TO WAR AND BEING IN HARMS WAY SIDE BY SIDE AMERICAN TROOPS DURING THE WAR WAS A TOTALLY TRUE ACCOUNT OF HER PROFESSION AND HER LIFE FAR BETTER THAN THE GROSS ACCOUNT(AT LEAST AT THE VERY END HERE) THAT M.S. TRIED TO PULL A STUNT,NOT ONLY ON THE VIEWING PUBLIC, BUT ALSO TRYING TO GET OVER ON MARLENE. AND I BELIEVE THAT HIS LACK OF RESPECT FOR US BOTH IS APPALLING.

Marlene was a recluse at this time, and Maximilian Schell did a fine job with what he captured.

I've waited too long to see this again, and if you have any interest in the subject matter, I'd say it's well worth your time!