Saturday, 26 November 2011

My Week With Marilyn

Last night I went to see 'My Week With Marilyn'. I had decided from very early on that I most likely wouldn't go to see it, but I'm glad I did, as it has now enabled me to have a valid and informed opinion of the movie.

First of all, I thought that Michelle Williams did a grand job at being Marilyn with the material she had. No, she doesn't look particularly like her, but I thought she did a very good job at trying to adopt her characteristics and voice. There were times during the scenes from 'The Prince and The Showgirl' that I could just about believe that it was Marilyn up there on the screen - she really had studied the part of Elsie in great detail.

The parts of 'My Week With Marilyn' that covered the making of 'The Prince and The Showgirl' were mainly fine in my opinion. I have spent 16 years researching every detail of the trip to England and of course the shooting of the movie, and it is no secret that Marilyn was difficult to work with and had trouble learning her lines. She walked off set in temper at times, and had the odd day off when she really shouldn't have, and all of this is documented in 'My Week With Marilyn'. The making of the movie corresponded well with what I have found by talking to cast members, crew and friends over the past two decades.

What I did have a problem with was the part of the movie that dealt with the flirtation or romance between Marilyn and Colin Clark. It is a fact that he was indeed on the movie, and this is confirmed by production records, but there is nothing in the records that indicates any kind of flirtation between the two, and according to 'My Week With Marilyn', just about everybody seemed to know about it on set. This can not be the case in 'real life' judging by the people I have spoken to over the years. Nobody has remembered any kind of romance either on set or off, so either it happened in complete secrecy or not at all. In my opinion it did not happen and I'm not saying that to be controversial towards the film-maker or the author; it's my opinion based on the research I have done and the people I have spoken to over the years.

I actually spoke to Colin Clark many times in the 1990s by telephone and I still have his letters. At the time I found him to be a charming man; very friendly and always happy to help me, but he never told me of any romance between him and Marilyn at all. Instead he spoke highly of her as a person, and at one point said something which I found very interesting at the time and indeed now: that often memory plays tricks on a person, and he demonstrated that by revealing to me that he had recently been in trouble with journalist Donald Zec. Apparently he had written in the book that Marilyn did not know who he was and hadn't met him before, but Zec had proven to Clark that that wasn't the case at all; Marilyn did know him and had actually posed for photographs with him.

My research into the making of the film has revealed discrepancies between the dates in the diary and a document compiled at the end of shooting, which showed the dates and times that Marilyn was on set for the entire shoot. It does show that Marilyn was off set sometimes, but did she spend that free time with Colin? In my opinion she spent the days off biking in Windsor with her husband; being genuinely ill; pottering around Parkside House; doing costume fittings for parties; shopping in London and going to the theatre with her husband. I do not believe she ever went to Windsor Castle or Eton. Why? Because in all the years of researching, I have heard from people who saw her in Brighton; cycling in Egham; driving in the lanes of Surrey... I've had letters from students who serenaded her from her garden; people who saw her at the theatre; even people who saw the infamous 'fake Marilyn' at Shakespeare's house. But never have I heard from anyone who saw her actually in Windsor castle or at Eton, and so that's a real sticking point for me.

But ignoring the parts of the film that were 'off-set', I did think it was a worthwhile effort by those involved. The casting was very good, and thought all of the actors made great attempts to get close to those they were playing. The only one I didn't like was the portrayal of Milton Greene. He wasn't portrayed in the best light and was not the person I have found him to be in my research.

The costumes were fabulous; the make-up wonderful and the sets were lavish and beautifully designed. I love period films anyway, so that was a great treat for me and in all I did indeed enjoy watching it and think that there will probably be quite a few awards for Michelle William's portrayal. I was very concerned with the way Marilyn would be played, and how she would come across, but I didn't have many problems with that side, apart from her being portrayed as rather more naive than she ever was in real life. But putting that and the 'romance' aside, I would say the film is still worth seeing. Just take the cornier parts of the script with a big pinch of salt and make your own mind up.

1 comment:

madrina said...

I love your take on the movie and couldn't agree more with every aspect of your assessment on the entire film, especially agreeing with that I do not believe Marilyn and Colin were romantic. I did an interview with Emma Glover. She was Michelle Wiliams "body double" for the nude scenes (such as the lake swimming scene) in My Week With Marilyn. I'd be honored if you would read it and let me know if you like the writing. I just began my own site (I've NEVER done any kind of site building so it's been let's say a labor of love that at times I've wanted to through my laptop out the window;). Overall though I'm proud of the starting stages of it. The site is I just followed you on twitter, which is how I found your blog ;). My twitter name is @fashiontakeback. Wonderful blog you have.
Warmest Regards,