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MARLON BRANDO ON TCM (article first published : 2007-11-25)

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) on DStv’s Channel 159 is to celebrate the life of Marlon Brando in a new and original documentary titled Brando which will premiere in South Africa.

The new documentary features never-before-seen footage of the enigmatic and unparalleled screen icon, with a star-studded roster of interviews including; Martin Scorsese, Edward Norton, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Dennis Hopper, James Caan, Angie Dickinson, John Travolta, Jon Voight and many others.

TCM sifts through the mystery behind one of Hollywood’s most-respected and celebrated practitioners of the art and craft of acting. Piecing together performances throughout the decades with unseen footage and a series of original in-depth interviews, TCM, along with The Greif Company (Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool), have worked to unmask the man behind the exceptional talent, captivating persona and apathy (and frequent aversion) toward his profession that was Marlon Brando.

The film investigates the challenges he faced in almost every personal and working relationship throughout his life: the hatred toward his hard-to-please, womanising father and the sadness for his alcoholic mother; the repeating pattern of determined pursuit of a woman who interested him and, once he captured her heart, the inexplicable distance and rejection that always followed; the disagreeable on-set behaviour in the 1960s that led almost every major studio and prominent filmmaker to reject him until he staged a comeback with The Godfather (1972); and the rift he caused with the Academy when he sent a representative to reject his Best Actor win at the annual awards ceremony because of what he considered Hollywood’s persecution of Native Americans.

“He is the marker. There’s ‘before Brando’ and ‘after Brando’,” says Martin Scorsese in the documentary. “And I think it’s time, especially for younger people, to go back and understand that, and see those pictures in the order in which they were made. Mainly because, I think, now they’re too hip to feel these emotions that were exploding on the screen with him. It’s about being human. Before Brando, actors acted. After Brando, they behaved.”

Brando highlights the actor’s performance in Broadway’s Truckline Café which first gained him major recognition, and the phenomenon he later created with A Streetcar Named Desire(1951) that put him over the top. The film also explores the classical acting in Julius Caesar (1953) that silenced his critics who labelled him a “mumbler,” his awe-inspiring work in The Godfather and what was arguably his most intimate effort on screen in Last Tango in Paris (1972).

In addition to documenting his efforts on behalf of Native-American causes, Brando also studies his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and support for the Black Panthers. In his later years, as he further lost interest in acting, his curiosity about other aspects of life only increased. The film features his efforts to develop Tahiti, including a tour of a school for marine biology he constructed that never opened its doors, as well as some of his inventions.

The Brando two-part documentary will premiere exclusively on film channel TCM on November 26 at 21h00. It will be preceded on the same day by Teahouse of the August Moon at 17h00 and Julius Caesar at 19h00.




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