An extraordinary and intimate portrait of the film giant, narrated in his own words, and utilising hundreds of hours of audio tapes recorded over the course of his life.
2015/USA/Picturehouse Entertainment/95 minutes/Documentary
Release Date: 23/10/2015
Director: Stevan Riley
Cast: Rebecca Brando, Miko Brando
With never-before-seen photos and film footage, the Director, Stevan Riley, delivers a captivating and intimate portrait of a troubled but brilliant and mesmerising actor.
Sitting in a darkened screening room, Listen to Me Marlon opens with the eerily disembodied voice of Marlon Brando together with his digitised features appearing like a mirage on screen. The scan was initiated by Brando in the 80s and was produced from a 3D scan of his head that was rendered by VFX supremo, Scott Billups at that time. It is hard to believe that you are not watching a Sci-Fi film. Through this imagery, Brando lives on – akin to a voice from the spirit world. If this sounds like ‘doom and gloom’ – I can assure you it isn’t. His thoughts and feelings on acting, politics, sex and civil rights have been widely publicised and in true Brando fashion, he doesn’t pull any punches.
His formative years were marked by his mother’s alcoholism and early demise and by his father’s abusiveness and disdain, which continued through his son’s massive success. Brando’s psychological problems must have impacted on his own behaviour towards his 12 children and would seem to be almost traceable to his father.
The film documents his trajectory from disillusioned youth to super star status. The crucial mentor for him was his acting teacher Stella Adler, whose strong personality comes through vividly in some amazing clips, as does New York City itself. We are treated to Brando at his best – in the evergreen clips we see from A Streetcar Named Desire, or the delicately crafted and poignant death scene from the Godfather, as well as Brando at his worst – Candy and Superman II.
There is more rare footage which shows him putting his Method acting to good use – spending time with a paraplegic for his first film, The Men; a peek behind the scenes colour shots of the making of On the Waterfront; and an interview at the premiere of Guys and Dolls where he appears to be seriously irritated by the crowd’s adulation.
Brando’s predilection for exotic women is well-documented (although not so much here) ie his first wife, Anna Kashfi, his second, Maria Movita Castaneda, followed very closely by Tarita Teriipaia. However, no mention is made of his doomed on-off romance with Jill Banner whom he met in the 60s whilst filming ‘Candy’. They rekindled their affair years later and prior to ‘popping the question’ in 1985, she was killed in an auto accident – she was only 35 years of age at the time.
Ultimately Brando’s story may be moving, poignant, troubling and sad, but at the same time it is also uplifting and will delight Brando fans – old and new alike.
Twitch Factor: Sub, Sub, Zero