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Marlene Dietrich - Her Own Song
Marlene Dietrich - Her Own Song
Actors: Burt Bacharach, André G. Brunelin, Rosemary Clooney, Buck Dawson, Alfred Hens
Director: David Riva
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
NR     2002     1hr 40min

Film goddess. Cabaret chanteuse. Tireless soldier. Immortal icon. Marlene Dietrich endures as one of the most seductive and glamorous personalities in cinematic history. But who was she really? In this fascinating, 'reveal...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Burt Bacharach, André G. Brunelin, Rosemary Clooney, Buck Dawson, Alfred Hens
Director: David Riva
Creators: David Riva, Cooky Ziesche, Frank Hübner, Gerhard Schmidt, H.W. Pausch, Karin Kearns
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 12/03/2002
Original Release Date: 01/01/2001
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2001
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 40min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, French, German, Hebrew
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

"She was a prototype."
anomie | 07/10/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The documentary "Marlene Dietrich: Her Own Song" is directed by grandson David Riva. About halfway into the film I realised I was watching some sort of "authorized/family" version of Dietrich's life. The film chooses to focus on certain parts of Dietrich's life while completely ignoring other substantial portions. The film concentrates on Dietrich's WWII activities, but it includes surprisingly little about her film career--many of her films are not even discussed. There's also very little here about Marlene's personal life--although her marriage to Rudolf Sieber is mentioned. Marlene's love affairs with three members of the Kennedy clan are also not mentioned--one brief clip flashes a very recognizable and young John Kennedy at the camera. The film does, however, chose to pursue the story of Dietrich's love affair with the French actor, Jean Gabin, but there's no mention of her affairs with other women.

The documentary includes information about Dietrich's early acting career, concert footage, and her screen test for "Blue Angel". Various people in the film industry relate their anecdotal memories of Dietrich--including Hildegard Neff, Burt Bacharach, Rosemary Clooney, daughter Maria Riva (the director's mother), and various biographers. There are some fascinating photographs of Marlene Dietrich's WWII involvement--the shows she gave to the troops, etc. The film discusses Dietrich's brave opposition to the Nazi party, Goebbel's attempts to get her back in the German film industry, and how she coped with being a German in wartime. Dietrich's films were eventually banned in her native Germany.

While it's extremely interesting to learn about Marlene's devotion to the troops, and how she suffered for being German, overall, the documentary is a disappointment. It's well made, well organized, coherent, etc., but it hardly gives a full picture of Dietrich's life. The film travels down one road and ignores the rest. I was especially disappointed that the film contained no analysis of Dietrich's relationship with von Sternberg. This one-sided presentation of Dietrich's life removes any possibility of analysis from the viewer and instead, we are spoon fed what is supposed to be the accepted biography. It's not so much that we don't get the dirt--we just don't get the full picture of this fascinating unforgettable, and complicated star. All that said, while this is not a definitive biography by any means, Dietrich fans will still want to seek out the film and absorb the information here. For me, the very best scene was Dietrich singing "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" in German while on tour in Israel. This was extremely moving--displacedhuman"
Soldier's Daughter Never Cries: Unbalanced, But Interesting
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 04/11/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"About this cultural icon Marlene Dietrich, we have already a great documentary film "Marlene" by Maximillian Schell. Now here is a question: do we need another? Apparently, the answer is yes, as far as "Marlene Dietrich -- Her Own Song" is concerned, for it is directed by her own grandson J. David Riva.But don't expect the film to be about her as actress. As the title of the film suggest, "Marlene Dietrich: Her Own Song" uses its considerable time to describe her war-time activity. As you know, she travelled all around the world during the WW2, and sang her songs before the cheering soldiers, and the film shows how she did the work, even risking her own life. No wonder we associate her image with the song "Lili Marleen," (which is, incidentally, not her song at first -- it was first sung by Lala Anderson).The film covers the aspect of Dietrich as actress, but the part is not what we can call in-depth study. In this film, her acting career means "The Blue Angel" "Morocco" and many others which are touched rather superficially. When Billy Wilder is mentioned, the film quoted is NOT "Witness for the Prosecution" but "A Foreign Affair." Strangely, the first one is never talked about, the decision no serious film critic would take. The most memorable part of the new documentary is its materials which only the people close to Marlene Dietrich can obtain. The home video part (8 mm films) is fascinating, capturing the Marlene Dietrich enjoying herself in holiday (some shots in swimming suit), and incredibly, they are mostly in color (remember, it's around the 1930-40s). And the brief reunion conversation between Marlene (who left Germany) and her mother (who stayed in Berlin during the war) recorded by US military is very touching.The interviewees include: Burt Bacharach, Rosemary Clooney, Maria Riva (the director's mother, and Marlene Dietrich's daughter), Volker Schlondorff, and many others. Narration by Jamie Lee Curtis, and Marlene's voice provided by Nina Franoszek.Not an incisive study of Marlene Dietrich, I admit, and some part looks whitewashed. (The existence of Marlene's elder sister is virtually ignored.) However, the materials used here are rare and quite interesting to see, and for that only it deserves to be seen. But of course, you should watch sexy and seductive Dietrich in "Morocco" first, and how she sings there, throwing a flower to Gary Cooper. It's a must."
A Woman we thought we knew - rediscovered
John Reagan | Los Angeles, California USA | 03/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This amazing work was screened first at the Berlin Film Festival last year. All I can say is to tell you that at the end of the screening, two kids - complete with blue mohawks and chains - told the Director that they had wandered into the film because the one they came to see was sold out. They also told him, in front of a moved audience of 800, that he had given them a hero, one they never knew they had. It was an incredible moment of closure for everyone there. The film is not about Lesbian affairs, the numerous hetero affairs or even films and dresses, what it is about is the real woman inside. A character study accomplished better than any in many many years. This is a film that APG, Turner Classic Movies and Marlene herself (if she's listening) should be proud of. Borrow it, buy it, see it. Thanks for listening, you won't be disappointed!"
Dietrich: The War Years
Damon Devine | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD concentrates mostly on Dietrich's devotion to "her boys" and the US during WW2. It does go through her entire life, as well, however. There is fantastic footage from her silent films, her personal life (some in color!) rare interviews and her later stage shows. It made me realize, as someone who has studied Dietrich the woman, for years, what a shock it was for her to return home after the war. Before the war, she lived for clothes, makeup and lovers. She found real depth as a person, when the war came. She saw real life and participated in it for the first time. She loved being of service to the country, and the contact with everyday beings.
When it was all over, she had to return to clothes, makeup and being merely a "movie star". She was very unhappy. Only the stage shows that she began in the early 50's brought her back to life. The contact with an audience was there, she could sing songs from and about the war, AND look great! That is really the focus of this DVD. I highly recommend this. It is very well done."