Marilyn Inspires Female Filmmakers

Sophia Sebiskveradze in ‘The Confession’

Marilyn’s iconic role in Some Like It Hot is referenced in Georgian filmmaker Zaza Urushadze’s The Confession, which has just premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival, as Daniel Hensel reports for Michigan Daily.

The Confession follows a preacher, Giorgi, and his assistant, Valiko,  as they fill in at a church in a town after the local preacher dies. They bring with them American DVDs and a projector to show in the church, believing that if the townspeople come for the movies, they’ll come to church.

The film series begins with Some Like It Hot, the 1959 Billy Wilder classic with Marilyn Monroe, leading a number of the villagers to note that one of the women in the village, a music teacher named Lili (Sophia Sebiskveradze, My Dad’s Girlfriend), looks an awful lot like the blonde bombshell herself. And sure enough, though she is far from identical, Lili’s styled platinum blonde hair makes a compelling case. Lili and Father Giorgi become friendly, with the preacher encouraging her to come to a confession, where she notes not her sins but rather her place in the village: since her husband’s death, many men lust after her, but she’s not interested in loveless sex.”

Meanwhile, Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, ‘Forever Marilyn’, is featured in Angels Wear White, a new film from Chinese director Vivian Qu, the Straits Times reports.

“The sexual assault of two 12-year-old girls sets off a harrowing chain of events in the film Angels Wear White (2017). Despite the premise, there is nothing lurid or sensationalistic in Chinese film-maker Vivian Qu’s second directorial feature.

In the film, contemporary society is fraught with dangers and temptations for the young given the corrupting force of money. Qu says: ‘When everything is up for sale, how can a young girl find the right answer for herself and move forward? This has all gotten a lot more complicated.’ She was calling from London where the film was being screened at the BFI London Film Festival.

Qu notes that there are seven female characters in her film, including a giant statue of screen legend Marilyn Monroe. Though they are at different stages of life and have different attitudes towards it, she is essentially writing about women.

But it is not a reductive portrayal along the lines of ‘men are bad and women are to be pitied’. Qu says: ‘We are already in the 21st century, and yet the value of women is something that has not been been really thought about.'”

China’s Glimpse of Marilyn

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Ahead of the November sale at Julien’s, some of Marilyn’s personal property was showcased for Chinese collectors in Beijing on Tuesday, Louise Watts reports for ABC News.

“Around 800 items to be auctioned come from the estate of Lee Strasberg, the famed American acting coach who became a father figure to Monroe. The money will go to his widow, Anna. Other items come from the collection of David Gainsborough-Roberts, a major collector of Monroe’s costumes.

The hundreds of items include dresses and outfits, the negligee she wore in the movie Niagara and the green and black-sequined leotard she picked out herself from a studio wardrobe to wear in Bus Stop. There is a tube of her ‘non-smear’ Revlon lipstick in Bachelor’s Carnation shade, the shoes she wore to marry playwright Arthur Miller, and the pair of costume earrings that she wore to the premiere of The Seven Year Itch.

Then there are the personal notes, crayon drawings and watercolors.

Lee Strasberg’s son, David, said that he, his mother and brother found many of the items in suitcases and closets about six years ago during a clean-out, including one trunk he’d been throwing his football cleats on for years that turned out to contain some of Monroe’s personal writings.

Some items up for auction have never been seen by the public before. They include a first-edition hand-bound 1957 volume of her third husband Miller’s plays dedicated to Monroe, and a letter from a member of the Kennedy family.

Among the quirkier items are a receipt for a bottle of champagne, her 1947 contract with Twentieth Century Fox and a recipe for stuffing jotted down on a slip of paper with an insurance company’s letterhead. Her final checkbook shows her payments to the window cleaner, her maid and the New York Telephone Co. She paid $200 to herself marked as ‘cash for trips.’

‘Marilyn kept everything. She was a hoarder,’ said [Martin] Nolan. ‘She bought a pound of butter, she bought a bottle of tonic water she kept the receipt. It’s incredible. We have a pair of strap sandals that she wore when she was Norma Jean, probably 1943, 1945. And all the money she made and how famous she became and she kept those.’

Although Western movies were banned in China during Monroe’s heyday, her pop culture image and aspects of her life are well-known among many Chinese.

Darren Julien, founder and CEO of Julien Auction’s, said about 40 percent of their client base are Chinese collectors interested in Western pop culture, and particularly Monroe.

‘A lot of people relate to her because she had actually a very difficult life in a lot of ways. She never had a lot of money, but she captured the hearts of so many people around the world,’ said Julien.”

famous-photographer-portraits-behind-photographs-tim-mantoani-3Meanwhile, photographer Douglas Kirkland has spoken to Shanghai Daily about Meeting Monroe, a series of classic images by himself and Milton Greene, currently on display at Shanghai Tower.

“There was a very unique quality about Marilyn. She was a sex symbol but there was a sweetness about her that was very compelling. There is no one like her. It was not only her beauty, but her vulnerability that made her special. It was often said Marilyn was great with still photographers — and she was. She didn’t see stills as being a waste of time. She enjoyed the still camera, perhaps more than motion.”

‘Dream of Dew’: Chen Ke Retells Marilyn’s Life Story

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Chinese artist Chen Ke has mapped the different stages of Marilyn’s life in her debut gallery show, ‘Dream-Dew’, at Hong Kong’s Galerie Perrotin until June 25, Samuel Spencer reports for BlouinArtInfo.

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“Whereas previous artists have focused on Monroe as an image or icon of a certain era of Hollywood glamour, Chen’s paintings focus on Monroe as person, a woman with hopes, history, and dreams.

For example, in ‘1932 Los Angeles 6 Years Old,’ 2016, Chen shows a young Monroe in the flower garden of a house straight out of an early 20th century American landscape painting. The image is put into question, however, by Monroe’s shadow, which seems to suggest she is posing against a backdrop rather than a real landscape, and by the fact the image is totally removed from the reality of 1930s America, with young Monroe’s blonde hair and clean blue dress at odds with our images of the Great Depression.

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Chen’s idea to paint Monroe’s dreams and real life came from the Chinese character translation of ‘Monroe’, which literally means ‘dream of dew.’ As the artist puts it in a statement, ‘Dream refers to Marilyn’s dreams, also the American Dream, the Hollywood Dream…the large paintings represent dreams of Marilyn’s childhood, youth, adulthood and an imaginary old age,’ while ‘dew is the real, as opposed to dreams.'”

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And finally, here’s part of a personal statement from the artist, Chen Ke:

“A Marilyn Monroe in her teens catches my eyes right away. Innocent and alive, slightly withdrawn and shy, with brightness and darkness like shadows in the sun, the girl was none of the sexy icon she would later be…

In Marilyn’s case, the success of dream pursuit and its attendant life force in the end, are no match for the dark influences planted deep in her unfortunate childhood, making her sad ending a kind of fatalism. In watching her strivings all along, we as knowing viewers can’t help feeling tragic for her, just as we would for Sisyphus who endlessly pushes the rock to the mountain top.”

Mini Marilyn Set For China

minimarilyn2The Mini Marilyn brand, launched last summer by ABG – the official licensing arm of Marilyn’s estate – is heading to China, reports the Wall Street Journal.

“Chinese film company DMG Entertainment has struck a deal with brand-development firm Authentic Brands Group LLC to develop projects for Mini Marilyn, a cartoon version of the late American actress. The two companies plan to develop the character for film, merchandise and in forthcoming retail and entertainment projects, said Dan Mintz, DMG’s chief executive and co-founder. He declined to disclose the financial details.

The companies are betting that Mini Marilyn, a cutesy cartoon version of her blonde bombshell image, will strike it big with Chinese audiences the way that characters like Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse have.

While Marilyn Monroe isn’t a household name in China, Mr. Mintz said most Chinese consumers know ‘Meng Lu,’ Ms. Monroe’s Chinese name, and are familiar with the image of her holding down her white dress in the film The Seven Year Itch.

They also hope Mini Marilyn will have appeal beyond China. ‘This is a global play,’ said Mr. Mintz. ‘When you look at Marilyn and the figure that she is, no one comes close. Everyone knows her.’

DMG hopes Mini Marilyn will pull in women, who are driving the box office in China and in the U.S, said Mr. Mintz. While there’s little data breaking down China’s movie audiences by gender, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said that growth of its online movie tickets is driven by women. In the U.S., 52% of moviegoers are women, according to data from the Motion Picture Association.

Mr. Mintz said Mini Marilyn will come to life in short previews over the next few months and then eventually in feature films, TV shows, short form digital content, video games, mobile apps, music and live venue attractions.”

 

‘Don’t Go, Monroe’: Tale of a Chinese Statue

China Statue

You may have thought Seward Johnson’s ‘Forever Marilyn’ statue was the largest of its kind, but a Chinese real estate company went one better with a very similar, but even bigger likeness, unveiled at a shopping mall in Guigang in December 2013. Like its predecessor, the sculpture attracted a great deal of controversy. But unlike Seward Johnson’s more fortunate creation, the Chinese Marilyn was removed and scrapped within six months – and a photo of the forlorn MM, abandoned in a rubbish dump, was circulated across the globe. An article published today at ECNS explores the curious story behind this ill-fated work of art.

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 “The original artwork by American artist Seward Johnson swept over the US with her charming smile and natural body language. But the imitation in China has received limited attention.

This was not what Wu Wei, the general manager of the Bali Real Estate Company, expected.

Wu had hoped that the Monroe statue in China would become a new landmark for Guigang.

The statue is a part of a shopping mall. When some investors were considering whether the copycat artwork would become embroiled in a copyright dispute, the shopping mall staff believed that lawsuit with the US would make them world famous.

Monroe was 30 in The Seven Year Itch [actually, she was 28] and Johnson reflected her true face on the ‘Forever Marilyn’ statue, while the Chinese one has a younger face, according to the designers at South China Normal University in Guangzhou.

The team of designers, led by professor Sheng Enyang from the university, spent over a year working on the statue and even visited the original one in Chicago to get inspirations for the artwork.

‘I feel so sad it was demolished,’ said Sheng.

From design to construction, the 4-ton statue took two years and cost more than 5 million yuan ($805,529). Monroe’s body parts were finished in Guangzhou, neighboring Guangdong Province, and transported to Guigang.

Wu was quite satisfied with the artwork. ‘It’s so vivid that we can see the blue blood vessels under white skin.’

Thousands of people gathered at the downtown square to see the unveiling ceremony. Wu tried to promote the unveiling ceremony to the top news in some websites but failed. The reason was that ‘the news did not pass the censors.’

…Wu did not expect that the most common discussion topic would focus on whether Monroe had ‘exposed too much of her body’ in that depiction.

In a local online forum, people admired Monroe’s beauty and Western style that they had not seen before, but some joked that many parents would lodge complaints as many children would ‘play under Monroe’s skirt.’

As a new landmark in a third-tier city with a population of more than 5 million, the statue did attract lots of people taking photos with the beauty.

‘Many young men came and took photos with their arms surrounding the statue’s legs,’ security guards outside the shopping mall recalled. ‘I had to chase them away.’

Four months after the erection of the statue, Monroe was circled with fences around 90 centimeters high. ‘We had to do that as many children would worm their way down to the skirts of Monroe,’ said Wu.

Finally, the company decided to remove the statue. On June 11, Wu called a local crane company.

‘I asked why they are removing it, they (the real estate company staff) said that it was because the statue had badly affected the beauty of the city,’ a crane driver recalled…

While the crane was about to start working beside the statue, An Xiao (pseudonym), a local citizen, dressed in a white skirt and took a picture posing like Monroe.

She put up a banner saying ‘don’t go, Monroe’ on the fence surrounding the statue…

An felt disappointed. In fact, she had never watched The Seven Year Itch and before knowing the demolition news, she had never taken a picture with it.

‘But I like her,’ she said. Monroe’s statue represents what she has been looking forward to: a different and international life.

For her, Guigang is a boring city. ‘There is no cultural life here,’ An said.”

15 Minutes Eternal: Warhol in Asia

Warhol's 'Marilyn, 1967' - uploaded to Flickr by 'oddsock'

’15 Minutes Eternal’, an exhibition devoted to the work of Andy Warhol – including a 1967 screenprint of Marilyn – will tour Asia over the next 27 months, reports Art Daily. Opening in Singapore, the retrospective will also visit Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo.