Using hundreds of hours of audio recordings, Stevan Riley’s remarkable documentary, Listen to me Marlon, offers a fascinating insight into the life of this very private actor in his own words.
Writing in The Guardian, Nigel Smith comments: “Despite his towering public profile, Marlon Brando was a deeply private man. Yet in the documentary Listen to Me Marlon, the actor lowers his defences to reveal his innermost thoughts. Director Stevan Riley’s film is a fascinating collage which profoundly probes its subject’s psyche.”
In an interview with Filmmaker Magazine, Stevan talks about the project: “Editing was fairly lengthy. It was about nine months. I was the editor, and I spent the first few months working with an assistant editor, just getting everything in. When all the material was transcribed over the course of a year, some of it came from an archive. I wasn’t sure it would be possible to tell the story all in Brando’s own words, but it did become possible as more and more tapes came out, and then they would get transcribed. They were in folders that came off the floor and then I would go through with a highlighter. I knew I wanted it to be a psychoanalysis of Brando and an investigation of the tragedy in his household. I wanted to see how that would unfold by the end of the film. I wanted a Freudian tale of the boy, the adult and the old man. That was part of my pre-production, but the edit was comprised of going through the folders and marking particularly noteworthy phrases that I could then move around and click for the edit, so I could have sequences with different ideas on a timeline. It was quite a technical edit, because the audio quality varied from tape to tape.”
He continues: “He felt misrepresented in the course of his life. This was his right to reply.”
The 2016 EE British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards ceremony takes place on Sunday 14 February.
Other nominations in the documentary category are: Amy (Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Rees); He Named Me Malala (Davis Guggenheim, Walter Parkes, Laurie Macdonald); Sherpa (Jennifer Peedom, Bridget Ikin, John Smithson); and Cartel Land (Matthew Heineman, Tom Yellin).
The winner in the short documentary category announced 13 February 2016 was Amy.
Filmmaker Stevan Riley and Marlon Brando's daughter Rebecca talk to Beyond Cinema Magazine