28 December 2001 | davidturgay
Sad example of bad (german) filmmaking
So, why is Joseph Vilsmaier so famous again? He has made so many movies and is sometimes portrayed as a german David Lean or John Huston. It's interesting that everyone ignores the fact that his films are most of the time superficial flicks, which have nothing to say. Yes, "Stalingrad" was brutal and realistic, but it didn't care about its characters at all. Yes, "Comedian Harmonists" was a great success, but it was accurate or cared about the facts? No.
"Marlene" is the latest, saddest example of this kind of filmmaking, which helps the german film to go down. Spending millions of DM, Vilsmaier wastes the money for costumes and sets, dozens of famous german actors and forgets the movie after all. And then people wonder why the film was another flop.
The movie pretends to be a biography about Marlene Dietrich, the famous german actress, who had such a interesting life. But instead of taking her life story and film it, Vilsmaier throws it away and tells a fairy-tale about a person, which never existed like that. He concentrates on about 10 years, in which she became famous, and forgets the rest. We don't get to know anything about her childhood or about her later years.
We see Marlene taking pills, sleeping with men and acting very bad. We get no reasons for any of this. We don't get explained why von Sternberg wants her so badly in his movies, even though everyone thinks she is a bad actress. We don't know why she treats everyone the way she does, including herself. We don't understand any of her motives. She acts and we have to accept it.
And as if her life was boring, they added a romance to her story, with a german officer who transforms in to a resistance fighter during WWII. This romance feels so artificial and unreal, as it really is. The nazis are again portrayed as caricatures (a typical german problem), and we never figure out what Marlene really thinks about them.
All the german actors tumble on the screen, some so unnecessary, you have to believe they're just there for the credit. Watch Christiane Paul, a really talented actress, as she has nothing more to say than a few lines or has to look sad. When she gets mad in the end, we have no clue why, or why we should care about it.
After all, another historical german epic, taking a story from real life, transforming it into a unrealistic story, with no edges. Of course this was a flop, I don't know why anyone should watch this. If you want to know anything about Marlene Dietrich, watch the documentary called "Marlene Dietrich" from Maximillian Schell. Or just watch her movies, because even there you get to know more about her, than from "Marlene".