Marlene (1984) - Rotten Tomatoes

Marlene (1984)

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The fifth directorial effort of German film star Maximillian Schell, Marlene is an unorthodox documentary of the legendary Marlene Dietrich. After years of resisting Schell's entreaties, Dietrich finally agreed to participate in this project-but refused to appear on camera. Thus, a tape recording of a Dietrich-Schell interview is heard throughout, while the screen is filled with images of Marlene culled from stills, dramatic films (The Blue Angel, Shanghai Express et. al.) and newsreel footage. Still far from cooperative, Dietrich ignores Schell's questions, preferring to spin her own version of the Marlene mystique. Despite her efforts at self-protection, we are left with a fuller and more honest portrait of the actress than might have been possible in a traditional question-and-answer format. Originally released in Europe in 1984, Marlene was given its first wide American distribution in 1987.

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Critic Reviews for Marlene

All Critics (5)

I think we learn much more about Dietrich than we would have if she had submitted to the usual paint-by-numbers, fawning Biography Channel type of film.

Full Review… | October 26, 2009
Goatdog's Movies

The result is a fascinating document, not only of the star herself, but also of the documentary as personal process.

Full Review… | October 10, 2009
Combustible Celluloid

The bilingual parrying between the withholding diva and her frustrated chronicler often seems like Sunset Boulevard re-imagined as a radio play, with sex removed from the equation but marlenus interruptus aplenty.

Full Review… | October 5, 2009
Slant Magazine

Schell uses the limiting conditions-Dietrich did't let him photograph her-to an advantage, resulting in a revelatory work that's more interesting because of the combative relationship with his subject, a star wishing to keep control to the bitter end

Full Review… | August 13, 2007
EmanuelLevy.Com

At once enigmatic, deliberately obfuscating in nature and extremely revealing.

Full Review… | August 18, 2005
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for Marlene

One of the best documentaries for its' subject matter. Completely new, inventive, and engaging from beginning to the end.

Vadim Dyment
Vadim Dyment

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