This film was absolutely fascinating from the beginning right up until the end. ‘Listen to Me Marlon’ is a 2015 documentary about the American actor Marlon Brando. This legend, best known for his style of method acting, had created hundreds of hours worth of personal audio documenting his life and acting career. These were found after his death, which the director Stevan Riley has masterfully compiled together.
Apart from ‘Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father’ (2008), I have to say that this is one of the best documentaries I have every seen. What struck me most about this film was the vast composition of unseen and unheard footage and audio from Brando’s personal archive that documented not only his highly successful acting career, but his extraordinary life away from the screen as well. The confessional style used to compile this together is incredibly moving – especially as I had no idea how distraught his life actually was.
The way that Stevan Riley (the director) artfully chose to use Brando’s commanding voice and captivating perspective to steer the documentary was was impressive. In hindsight, I think that there was no other way to have properly archived Marlon Brando’s life than from the man himself.
Brando’s engaging audio narrative could easily be a character from a film (or an enigmatic alter-ego at the very least).
For some reason, whilst listening to some of his innermost ramblings, I could not help but perceive parallels between him and Gatsby (the eponymous character of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1930s book which glamorised the 1920s in a poignantly tragic way). Like ‘The Great Gastby’ Brando explains how he worked his way up, coming from the humbled background of a business man’s son to being one of the best actors in the world! This was poignantly twinged by him tirelessly striving for the political rights of groups such as Native Americans, as well as the dark elements of his personal life. He gave his all, but was tragically a very flawed character (a self confessed womaniser whose later life was torn with family strife). This unique portrayal of his life, as mentioned above, could not have been told more eloquently by anyone else, other than the actor himself. Stevan Riley (who wrote, directed and edited this masterpiece) has done an amazing job embodying a piece of Brando’s life in cinema. If you like the actor Marlon Brando, you like documentaries and like the history of Hollywood then you MUST watch this.