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Reviewed on 11/28/2015
Its all about the editing. Peter Ettedgui is editor and co-writer. Knowing its narrative and editing the footage to its story makes this documentary work. It is a compelling way of bringing Marlon Brando back to life. Using tapes narrated by Brando, intercut with his filmography and slices from his personal life, Ettedgui creates a masterpiece.
The film does not shy away from Brando's history as a controversial actor with whom to work. In fact, when listening to the tapes we get Brando's side of the storied headlines that were criticizing him during the making of such films as MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY and APOCALYPSE NOW. We learn that he believed strongly in mixing the rectitude in his personal life with his work up on the screen. He constantly refers to lies in many different contexts, with acting the most salient one in his life. Marlon is not ashamed to admit to the disasters he made in the '60's, in particular, CANDY and COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG. On one of the tapes labeled "hypnosis" he tapes to himself how to relax by remembering tranquil times from his past, which most likely is where the title is conceived. When the film ends on a very sad and tragic note, we realize we have just witnessed almost 80 years in the life of one of Hollywood's most engaging actors, past or present. Many believe he was the best actor of all time. I certainly won't disagree if we are talking about the '50's and '70's.
Not only are the sound tapes rare, but as a bonus we see some rare interviews of Stella Adler, the renowned acting teacher who studied under the Russian acting director, Stanislavski. Brando comments that without her coaching he never would have been a successful actor. He ponders on what his life would've been like if he wasn't an actor and he says he probably would have been a con man. We never would've have seen him in one of the most famous scenes on celluloid, pleadingly and passionately screaming for "Stella... Stella."