"Listen to Me Marlon" is a documentary film written, directed and edited by Stevan Riley about the movie star and iconic actor Marlon Brando - released in July 2015. Variety says "Made with the full cooperation of the Brando estate, the pic is a superbly crafted collage whose soundtrack is as complexly textured as the curation and editing of visual elements." We will also see a few supplementary clips of people talking about Brando.
Built upon Brando’s own archive of self-analysing audio tapes, Stevan Riley’s intimate documentary gets under the actor’s skin to reveal a troubled, fragile, self-obsessed soul.
The Village Voice calls it "a masterpiece" and David Edelstein lists it as "the greatest, most searching documentary of an actor ever put on film." According to Vanity Fair, it "is a compelling documentary about Marlon Brando compiled entirely from private audio tapes the actor recorded at home, in business meetings, during hypnosis, in therapy, and during press interviews."
“A troubled man alone beset with memories in a state of confusion, sadness, isolation, disorder,” the Oscar winner mused about himself in the third person. “He’s wanted beyond being able to be social in an ordinary way and he becomes like a mechanical doll,” he continued, on the dual responsibilities and resentments of fame. “Maybe he felt that he was treated badly and he is angry about the treatment.”
This is just one telling glimpse inside Brando’s mind in the 95-minute documentary. Without relying on any “talking heads” or Brando experts the film is literally Brando on Brando - his memories of childhood, his confessions about his insecurities, his thoughts on acting, and the cynical lessons he gathered from being the world’s biggest movie star.
Director, Stevan Riley, came to know Brando better than most. “He was very closeted about his private life to press” but diligently documented his private musings and curiosities. “He was a real autodidact,” Riley explains. “He didn't have the best education. He was unbearably dyslexic. I think he would have been a bit shy and self-aware of that, but he was a sponge for learning. He would note his books and underline his books and correspondences. He’d record tapes of just vocabulary, little turns of phrase he liked, nice expressions or a sumptuous bit of language, and he would learn those diligently. He’d learn the vernacular. He was an obsessive analyzer of human behavior. He was just so preoccupied with what made people tick. He was a fantastic mimic. He described mimicry as a way he got attention as a kid because people liked to see reflections of themselves.”
You simply cannot get a more intimate look "behind the scenes" on a very unusual life... a very complex talent... and one of the 20th century’s greatest actors.