Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. West Germany, 1984. Bayerischer Rundfunk, Braun Entertainment Group, OKO-Film. Screenplay by Meir Dohnal, Maximilian Schell. Cinematography by Henry Hauck, Pavel Hispler, Ivan Slapeta. Produced by Zev Braun, Karel Dirka. Music by Nicolas Economou. Production Design by Heinz Eickmeyer, Zbynek Hloch. Film Editing by Heidi Genee, Dagmar Hirtz. Academy Awards 1984. Boston Film Critics Awards 1987. New York Film Critics Awards 1986.
The life, career, myth and mystery of the great Marlene Dietrich are examined in this cinematic fan letter by Oscar-winning actor Maximilian Schell. Schell puts together a vortex trip through the early years of Dietrich’s life before showing us the many iconic images that made her such a subject of fascination for movie audiences, and later concert audiences, for the better part of four decades. Refusing to be photographed, Dietrich’s voice is heard narrating anecdotes from her memories of life in pre-Nazi Germany to the glittering lights of Hollywood. She expresses few regrets and maintains a practical sense of her accomplishments, insisting that she only lives in the present and looks to the future, never the past. Diehard fans will definitely not want to miss it, and those who aren’t familiar with her work will discover a lot worth learning here. While this impressive film examines the legend of Dietrich, the excellent documentary Marlene Dietrich: Her Own Song examines her personal side.