Listen to Me Marlon
Showtime Documentary Films Presents, A Passions Pictures Production, Cutler Productions
The late actor Marlon Brando not only left a legacy of iconic film performances, from Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront to Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather, but also hundreds of self-recorded audiotapes – personal musings on everything from his Nebraska childhood to his acting technique to his affinity for underdog causes – and a hologram-like rendering of his head, a computer-generated bust. The latter wasn’t some kooky quirk but part of a 1980s experiment in digital preservation of actors. The grand brainstorm of Stevan Riley, director of Listen to Me Marlon, was to animate the hologram, sync the lips to selections from Brando’s taped soliloquies and thus make it literally a talking head. It’s startling at first, spooky, a ghostly fever dream. But Riley wisely uses CGI Brando judiciously, cutting away to clips from his films and home movies, news reports and scene-setting stock footage that illustrate or enhance his words. The result is like an autobiography Brando never wrote, an intimate survey of the workings of his mind and an offhand master class in his approach that left an indelible mark on screen acting. For its insights into the life and work of a great American artist and for its eye-popping technical creativity, a Peabody Award goes to Listen to Me Marlon.
PRIMARY PRODUCTION CREDITS
Produced by: John Battsek, R.J. Cutler, George Chignell. Executive Producer: Andrew Ruhemann. Director: Stevan Riley. Writers: Stevan Riley, Peter Ettedgui. Videographer: Ole Bratt Birkeland. Actor: Marlon Brando.