M, a Finnish horror film inspired by Marilyn and starring pop star Anna Eriksson, is heading to the Venice Film Festival this year, where it has been described as the most experimental film in the line-up, as Nancy Tartaglione reports for Deadline. Finnish news sources indicate that Eriksson became interested in Marilyn after reading Sarah Churchwell’s feminist ‘meta-biography’,The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe – a good place to start – and her film explores the objectification of women. (M was also the title of Fritz Lang’s classic 1931 film, starring Peter Lorre as a child-killer.)
Eriksson discussed her inspiration in a recent Facebook post:
“Even though Marilyn Monroe was my inspiration for the film, in the end M turned out to be a deeply personal work. Somewhere along the way I realized that the link between sexuality and death, that to me so profoundly defines Monroe’s fate, is a link that we all share with her. That the ancient bond between these two forces is in fact an integral part of humanity. And that the myth that is Marilyn, holds in itself a reflection of our own dreams, our desires and our losses.”
A new exhibition, Marilyn: A Woman Behind Her Roles, has opened at the Vapriikki Museum in Tampere, Finland. Showcasing the collection of Ted Stampfer, it’s a unique opportunity to see a wide range of Marilyn-owned items and memorabilia, and will be on display until December. Additionally, Risto Pitkänen’s collection of MM postcards will be displayed at the Postcard Museum from June 19-August 26. And Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch and The Misfits will be screened at the Niagara Arthouse Cinema this summer.
Marilyn and the 19th century American poet, Emily Dickinson, are the dual inspirations for I tvillingarnas tecken (In the Characters of the Twins), a 2015 collection by Eva-Stina Byggmastar, a Swedish poet living in Finland.
‘She surprises us readers with poems addressed to Marilyn Monroe and Emily Dickinson,’ a review notes. ‘Monroe and Dickinson become trustworthy guides through the wandering of the soul’s landscape – a walk towards acceptance of an honest, more sensitive and more lively self.’ Unfortunately, the book is not available in English.
While on the surface, the two women may appear to be polar opposites (Emily was famously reclusive), Marilyn had more in common with her than meets the eye, as she also wrote poetry and owned a volume of Dickinson’s selected works, as catalogued by Christie’s in 1999.
Finland is a country with great appreciation for Marilyn, as this new fiction anthology reveals. Edited by Salla Simukka and Marika Riikonen, Marilyn, Marilyn includes twelve short stories, imagining MM both in her own time and the present day, and exploring her enduring appeal. It comes recommended by film historian Antti Alanen, himself the author of a book about Marilyn. (And just in case you’re wondering, the cover image comes from an original publicity shot for Let’s Make Love.)
MM superfan Sirkku Aaltonen is a 31 year-old Home Economics teacher living in Helsinki, Finland. She is also one of Everlasting Star’s original members and an esteemed moderator. Sirkku wrote the ES Updates biography of Marilyn, and maintains a Monroe Book Blog in both Finnish and English.
For several years, Sirkku has been writing a thesis about Marilyn’s relationship with food, as part of her ongoing studies at the University of Helsinki. An interview with Sirkku – all about Marilyn, and cookery – has now been published by Savon Sanomat. (And if you don’t know any Finnish, there’s always Google Translate!)
Finnish critic Antti Alanen has reviewed The Fireball, a 1950 Mickey Rooney film featuring a brief appearance by MM.
‘Not a masterpiece like The Lusty Men, but there is something of the same gritty sense of reality in The Fireball. The documentary sequences from the roller derbies and Johnny’s ride down Temple Street are exciting.
Not an important Marilyn Monroe movie, but there is a Monroe connection in the orphanage in which the movie starts. “I don’t even know if Casar is my real name”, Johnny tells the tv reporter. “I’m just a kid left on the doorstep of somebody’s home.”
From IMDb I learn that The Fireball was constantly seen on U.S. tv in the 1950s. In Finland it hasn’t been seen since the premiere 62 years ago.’
“Although the material is new the editors in their foreword slightly exaggerate its meaning. They claim that in the 1950s Marilyn’s image had to be flawless. But I believe on the contrary, following Richard Dyer, that Marilyn’s star charisma was based from the beginning on the fact that she was able to reconcile huge contradictions. One of them was that she was known as the girl who read Rilke and Joyce on the sets of her dumb blonde vehicles. Even intelligent directors such as Joseph L. Mankiewicz were bluffed. They believed Marilyn actually to be the dumb blonde she played. Those who read her interviews at the time always knew otherwise. She was at her most perceptive in the ones she gave in 1962. These private notes collected from desk drawers provide more evidence of the soulful Marilyn.”
Marilyn’s screen time in the final Marx Brothers movie, made in 1949, adds up to less than a minute – but she certainly made the most of it!
Funding was withdrawn before shooting ended, hence a very long rooftop chase scene where the actors pass countless neon advertising signs. Despite only having a walk-on role, Marilyn was chosen to promote the film and flew to New York City – probably for the first time – in July.
It’s rather an odd film but well worth seeing if you’re a diehard Marx or Monroe fan. Available on DVD, and showing this Sunday, August 1, at 6pm, and again on Tuesday, August 3rd, at 6pm, at the Bio Orion in Helsinki.