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Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:42 pm
by jarkko ... ew-1180994
Hollywood Reporter
'Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love': Film Review | Sundance 2019
5:33 PM PST 1/29/2019 by Todd McCarthy

Nick Broomfield's latest looks at late Canadian singer Leonard Cohen's love story with his Norwegian muse, Marianne Ihlen.

A twisty network of amorous, creative and, at this point, historical impulses drive Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, an odd duck of a documentary that delves knowingly into intimate aspects of the relationship between American musician Leonard Cohen and his 1960s lover and muse Marianne Ihlen, but only intermittently gets to the bottom of things.

Veteran British documentary director Nick Broomfield, who counts among his many films the music-centric Kurt & Courtney, Biggie & Tupac and Whitney: Can I Be Me?, certainly knows of what he speaks (he himself was briefly one of Marianne’s lovers). The doc swells with wonderful archival footage that immerses you in the hedonistic environment the principals occupied, but in ranging wide it somehow doesn’t go deep, or at least deep enough, into its twin protagonists to satisfy as the full story. Still, it’s a welcome addition to the bulging collection of films about the allure and the treacherous downside of the counterculture era.

Youthful seeker Cohen, a well-raised lad from Montreal, was on an extended trip through Europe in 1960 when he met the Norwegian beauty on the Greek island of Hydra, known as a quiet enclave for international artists and, increasingly, druggies.

Abundant film footage of the couple, Marianne’s young son Axel and the paradisiacal environment leave no question as to why the place captivated seekers, and there are amusing shots of Cohen, sitting shirtless in the burning sun and allegedly on amphetamines, struggling to write a big novel, Beautiful Losers, which flopped on its publication in 1966.

To be sure, theirs was a great love story, but Cohen’s interest turned to music, which led him to the U.S. and into the arms of many, many other women. As Cohen himself explains it in an old interview, “I was always escaping, I was always trying to get away.” A lively Judy Collins is a key witness here to Cohen’s transition from failed novelist to celebrated singer-songwriter, recalling his low opinion of his own voice and petrifying fear of performing, including one night when he fled the stage and would only return if Collins accompanied him.
It was Collins, of course, who first recorded Cohen’s “Suzanne” in 1966, while his first album followed the next year. Music, it was now clear, would be his career, and Marianne would fade into the backdrop while her ex-boyfriend embarked on a long hedonistic odyssey, chalking up all the conquests he could manage after emerging as a celebrated musical figure.

The “Marianne and Leonard” part of the film is thus put on pause as Cohen pursues his career, with details of Marianne’s up-and-down life, including the sorry story of her son Axel, slipped in from time to time. Bulking the film out to feature length are a host of interviews with some of Cohen’s surviving professional cohorts, who have been encouraged to recall in detail the drug-addled concerts, tours and especially the singer-songwriter’s sexual escapades, which they agree were legendary. To this end, Broomfield has amassed as much footage as possible of Cohen happily wading into crowds of fawning young women at concerts and parties.

Then there is Cohen’s retreat into religious life. Always a sincere Jew, he was at the same time a perpetual seeker and from 1994-99 lived in a Buddhist monastery in California. Needless to say, Marianne doesn’t enter the picture during this period, although briefly mentioned is his former business manager’s theft of $5 million from Cohen’s retirement fund, which wiped him out and forced his return to touring and a smashingly successful late career.

At this point, Marianne does re-enter the story, however tangentially, as she attends one of his concerts and he writes her a final, moving note shortly before her death; he followed her just three months later.
Marianne & Leonard more makes note of the depth and complexities of Cohen’s life than it gets to the bottom of it all. Like many driven artists, Cohen had to go his own way and women served, by far, as his principle inspiration. Marianne was the first, the most important and the most enduring.

Production companies: BBC, Kew Media Group
With: Helle Goldman, Richard Vick, Aviva Layton, Judy Collins, Julie Felix, John Simon, Ron Cornelius, Jan Christian Mollestad, Billy Donovan, Mary Macha, Don Lowe
Director: Nick Broomfield
Producers: Nick Broomfield, Marc Hoeferlin, Shani Hinton, Kyle Gibbon
Executive producers: Charles Finch, Patrick Holland, Jan Cristian Mollestad, Lisa Savage, Tony Palmer, Rudi Dolezal
Director of photography: Barney Broomfield
Editor: Marc Hoeferlin
Music: Nick Laird-Clowes
Venue: Sundance Film Festival (Documentary Premieres)

Re: Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:44 pm
by jarkko ... cs-786148/
Rolling Stone
Sundance 2019: Crosby, Miles and Leonard Cohen’s Muse
The fest’s trio of music docs give you three portraits of an artist as a bastard — and one look at the human being behind one famous muse
JANUARY 30, 2019
In the 1960s, on the Greek island of Hydra, a Norwegian ex-pat met a young Canadian poet. Her name was Marianne Christine Ihlen; his name was Leonard Cohen. You probably know the rest if you know Cohen’s story, or if you simply have a passing familiarity with the lyrics to “So Long, Marianne.” If not, Nick Broomfield is happy to fill you in. Marianne & Leonard: Words of Lovecharts the friendship, love affairs and off-on relationship between these two, which resulted in broken hearts, cold shoulders and several unbelievably beautiful songs.

Because this is a Broomfield joint, the director is also more than happy to tell you that he and Marianne were briefly lovers when they met, how she gave him his first hit of acid and include a scene of him visiting an old friend to talk about their days of hanging out with “so much golden sun-kissed people of either sex” in the Mediterranean. (Shockingly, the Kurt & Courtney documentarian does not bump into a single boom microphone this time.) There’s a lot of great Cohen footage, much of it taken from the invaluable 1974 tour diary Bird on a Wire, and you get his journey from early scribblings to late-tour comeback.

What makes this film unmissable, however, is the fact that we get Marianne’s story more or less in full as well. It’s a fleshing out of someone who was more than just a muse, more than just an object of affection for a famous man (and an infamous bastard; Cohen had that in common with like Crosby and Davis). We’ve heard the now-famous letter that the musician wrote to her as she lay on her deathbed, of how he was “right behind her” in terms of time running out. But to see that letter being read to her, and the run of emotions across her face as she processes her own “so long,” is to feel that the narrative has been given back to her. Marianne is no longer just “Leonard’s muse.” She’s a woman who’s lived and loved and lost completely apart from the songs.

Re: Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 10:46 pm
by MarieM ... ce-review/

Little White Lies

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love – first look review

Leonard Cohen’s muse takes centre stage in this haunting film from Nick Broomfield.

Having kept himself uncharacteristically out of Whitney: Can I Be Me, it’s almost a relief to find Nick Broomfield – once known as “the man with the boom” – potentially threatening to upstage his own subject. Not that he goes that far here, with this mournful ode to Marianne Ihlen, the single mother who made Leonard Cohen swoon, and whom the director also briefly dated.

While Ihlen inspired some of Cohen’s greatest work – most famously, ‘So Long, Marianne’ and ‘Bird on the Wire’ – she also encouraged Broomfield to become a documentary filmmaker. Hydra, the Greek island where they met, was evidently a potent, liberating meeting point for like-minded creatives and, as it turns out, hedonists.

In archive footage we see and hear from Cohen and Ihlen, who lived on the island in the early-to-mid 1960s, when rock’s great poet was struggling with depression and failing at becoming a novelist, while also soaking up the sun (and local substances). Cohen’s move off the island and into the arms of music-led success coincides with the film shifting away from Ihlen, as she gently fades from view and his globe-trotting star shines ever brighter.

Enter Judy Collins, who becomes a both a supporter and a prop for the stage-wary Cohen. Collins gives great testimony to Cohen’s own reticence as a performer – hard to believe now, given the man’s lively late-career revival prior to his death in 2016. Collins famously cut Suzanne a year before the public heard his own version. We hear how Ihlen scolded her in writing for covering Cohen’s songs and “ruining her life”.

Others, including members of Cohen’s touring band, attest to Cohen’s voracious appetite for women and drugs, as the dawn of a new era beckons, and the tours and accolades pile up. There’s enjoyable archive of Cohen at work (and play). Everyone, it seems, is having a good time. Except, as one wryly notes, the children.

Cohen’s own career had its own idiosyncratic series of twists and turns, of course. He famously retreated to a monastery for five years in the 1990s, only to return home to find his retirement fund syphoned off by duplicitous management. Cue a hugely successful career revival that introduced him to even larger audiences as he entered his final decade (he was still happily promoting his last album while in ill-health, just weeks before he died).

Broomfield’s film returns to Ihlen proper as she and Cohen both face the final curtain (they died three months apart). On hearing of her impending passing, Cohen reconnects with his original muse, penning a note which also provides Broomfield with a powerful touchstone.

It’s easy to be cynical of the filmmaker’s presence in his own films – as with TV’s Louis Theroux, Broomfield’s ‘bumbling Brit’ routine could only run so far – yet here it feels entirely appropriate. Broomfield was barely 20 when he fell under Ihlen’s spell, and clearly has something to say in the wake of her passing. Perhaps inevitably, her story is overshadowed by Cohen’s, and the film certainly has to move beyond Hydra to sustain its running time. Despite Broomfield’s probing, both figures maintain their mystique.

Yet, as a thoughtful musing on the passing of time, of lovers past and gone, of a bygone era of hopes and dreams and lives lived to excess, it packs an emotional punch. Broomfield has referred to it, rather aptly, as his “first love story”. One can’t imagine a better way of putting it.

Re: Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2019 7:36 am
by MarieM
Hollywood Glee
JANUARY 30, 2019
Posted by Larry Gleeson

Marianne & Leonard – Words of Love, the latest work from Brit documentary filmmaker, Nick Broomfield, is a beautiful yet tragic love story between Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen. Broomfield delivers a well-organized and polished film with traditional documentary filmmaking techniques of utilizing voice-over-narration, still photographs with effects, archival footage and present day interviews. Furthermore, Broomfield manages to interview very interesting characters to say the least, all of whom sing the praises of Marianne and share some insightful observations on the semi-reclusive Cohen, most often associated with his best-selling work, Hallelujah that contains most of Cohen’s common themes of religion, politics, isolation, sexuality and romantic relationships. What emerges from Broomfield’s efforts is a well-researched and documented look into the deeply persoanal and spiritual relationship of Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen.

Interestingly, Broomfield’s work Tales of the Grim Sleeper (2014), introduced film goers to the Black Lives Matter Movement before it became a national movement. Broomfield was also the last person to speak to Ailenne Wuornos as he was making his Ailenne: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003), the central character in Monster. Charlize Theron portrayed Wuornos and received an Oscar for her performance. Other prominent and well-known works from Broomfield include Sarah Palin: You Betcha! (2011), Battle for Haditha(2007), Kurt and Courtney (1998) Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam(1995) and Soldier Girls (1981).

Broomfield begins Marianne & Leonard – Words of Love to when and where the love of Leonard Cohen and Marianne Islen began – on the idyllic Greek island of Hydra in 1960 as part of a bohemian community of foreign artists, writers and musicians. The film follows their relationship from the early days on Hydra, a humble time of ‘free love’ and open marriage, to how their love evolved when Leonard became a successful musician. It was on Hydra in 1968 that director Nick Broomfield, then aged 20, first met Marianne Ihlen. Marianne introduced him to Leonard Cohen’s music and also encouraged Nick to make his first film and was an enormous influence on him.

Marianne and Leonard’s was a love story that would continue for the rest of their lives. Along the way, Broomfield brings to light the tragedy that befell those that could not survive the beauty of Hydra, the highs and lows of Cohen’s career, and the inspirational power that Marianne possessed. Marianne and Leonard died three months apart.

With Marianne & Leonard, Broomfield continues his already strong body of work with a more personal touch.

In the Q & A following the film’s screening, Broomfield credits Marianne’s nurturing soul and gentle encouragement as the catalyst behind his advent into documentary filmmaking. Seemingly, Leonard and Marianne touched something deeply personal inside Broomfield. Following the Q & A I personally thanked Mr. Broomfield for his work and quickly inquired what his next project would be. Broomfield cooly replied he was doing something even more personal – a project about his father. Stay tuned as Broomfield is at the top of his game and I personally look forward to seeing more from this highly original and very authentic filmmaker. Warmly recommended.

Re: Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:39 pm
by Wybe
From Sophia on Facebook,

The 21st Thessaloniki Documentary Festival kicks off on Friday, March 1st, 2019 at the Olympion theatre with Nick Broomfield’s documentary Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love. ... ds-of-love

Re: Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:28 am
by MarieM ... s-of-love/

Slug Magazine
Posted February 1, 2019

Director: Nick Broomfield

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love follows Leonard Cohen from his fledgling writer days through his career as the famed folk singer-songwriter as we know him. This documentary explores (some of) his love of Marianne Ihlen, with whom he was in an open relationship for many years and who is thought of as his muse. It starts in the island of Hydra, Greece, where Cohen wrote literature (his second novel, Beautiful Losers, received dismal reviews from Canadian reviewers). On Hydra, Cohen and Ihlen found a simple sort of love with each other, both feeling that they weren’t particularly attractive but that the other was beautiful—this is where Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love looks to find the footing that its title suggests.

Unfortunately, that element fizzles out, and what we get is a half-baked documentary about Cohen’s proclivities for women, LSD and other drugs. The title Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love is lip service to the angle it purports. Rather than an in-depth uncovering of the passion and tensions between them, Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love modulates to Ihlen to give dry, historical updates on where she is concerning Cohen at points in his career with dispassionate summaries. The film reveals faulty writing for film, which would have better existed as a biography for avid fans.

The interviewees certainly don’t help. Since Cohen and Ihlen are dead—having passed three months apart, a factoid coincidence that the film romanticizes—Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love relies on interviews from friends of Cohen to guide the film. Ihlen moves to Montreal to be with Cohen with her son, “Little” Axel Jensen. She eventually moves back to Hydra because she’s unhappy with the way things are going with Cohen in Canada. While his friends acknowledge the strife that Ihlen faces when Cohen neglects her and has relationships with other women, they excuse him for the way he treats her.

Because Cohen is a poet, artist and musician, the interviewees chalk such wayward behavior up to essentially being his nature, that he needs the company of women to feel secure and that he’s someone whom she can’t contain even though her desire is to be his proverbial “one.” Their and the film’s avoidance to hold him accountable for his melancholic relationship with Ihlen is reductive toward what, in reality, was likely a complex relationship. One friend makes a point to state that Cohen was a feminist. Well, great. Without fleshing out the passion that Cohen and Ihlen had to have held for each other to create any kind of narrative tension with his free-loving actions, Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love simply and obliviously shines Cohen in a negative light.

The parts of the film that offer some warmth are those where Cohen is performing his music, and video and audio footage from past interviewees. His music and performances are particularly arresting on the big screen, and the spare darkness of his songs let his voice softly proclaim his poesy. Cohen’s voice grounded who he was and what he was saying. For example, when Cohen explains why it felt right to participate in the free-love movement of his heyday in his own words via audio footage, his reasoning that it was an advanced, intimate expression of friendship makes sense. Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love doesn’t offer any of Ihlen’s perspective about Cohen’s participation therein, just commentary from the interviewees about their opinions about the matter in general and that Cohen did it. Had there been any sort of documentation of her thoughts on this matter, that would be a start, but the documentary just repeats the platitude that Cohen’s distance from she, his muse, distressed her.

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love’s storytelling feels clumsy. The speaking from interviewees jolts from one topic to the next with the film dragging photos and video behind them, making short-lived pit stops at the topic of Ihlen then obsequiously course-correcting to lionize Cohen along the trajectory of his career. This leaves the viewer to play catch-up then compressing his life after the ’70s into the final minutes of the documentary. I’m honestly surprised that, alongside Kew Media Group, the BBC produced this. –Alexander Ortega

Re: Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:32 pm
by sebmelmoth2003

Re: Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 5:51 pm
by mary emma
Docville Leuven (Belgium) 30th of March and 3rd of April (Kinepolis Leuven)
Marianne and Leonard - Nick Broomfield
info: ... ds-of-love

Mary Emma

+++ Hello Mary Emma, on the Docville website are the dates now :30th of March and 2nd of April+++ - Wybe

Re: Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:27 pm
by Maarten
mary emma wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 5:51 pm
Docville Leuven (Belgium) 30th of March and 3rd of April (Kinepolis Leuven)
Marianne and Leonard - Nick Broomfield
info: ... ds-of-love

Mary Emma
Mary Emma

Thanks for the info, much appreciated!
I'll be going to the screening next Saturday (March 30). Anyone else planning on being there?


Re: Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 12:19 am
by Wybe
I'll be going to the screening next Saturday (March 30). Anyone else planning on being there?

Maarten, we can't go on March 30, we go on April 2nd.

Re: Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:53 am
by Maarten

Perhaps my parents would like to join you then. They can’t make it on the 30th either... Get in touch with them if you want to meet up. I prefer to go next Saturday because there’s an afterword with Belgian psychiatrist Dirk De Wachter scheduled after the screening.

Take care

Re: Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:35 pm
by Wybe
Thanks Maarten, we have already been in contact with Ann and Eddy :D

Re: Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Sat Jun 29, 2019 2:17 pm
by Wybe
The love that bound Leonard Cohen to his muse
Filmmaker Nick Broomfield talks about his latest film "Marianne & Leonard", his own romance with Cohen's muse and why his movies can make their subjects angry.Source: CNN

Here is the link:
Interview with Nick Broomfield on CNN

Re: Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:43 pm
by christineanne
An article in the new review section of today's copy of the UK newspaper 'The Observer' ... ds-of-love

I found it especially interesting to read the following:

Just before her death in July 2016 of leukaemia, a friend of hers, Jan Christian Mollestad, contacted Cohen, who sent an email to his former lover, which Mollestad read out to Ihlen. It said:

Dearest Marianne,

I’m just a little behind you, close enough to take your hand. This old body has given up, just as yours has too, and the eviction notice is on its way any day now.

“I’ve never forgotten your love and your beauty. But you know that. I don’t have to say any more. Safe travels old friend. See you down the road. Love and gratitude. Leonard

Four months later, Cohen died after a fall at his home in Los Angeles.

Owing to a radio interview with Mollestad, in which he paraphrased the deathbed message at longer length, a different version of the email was initially reported. It was hailed as a romantic classic of eternal love. The real version is a little more economical but no less touching. Earlier this month, a cache of more than 50 love letters between Ihlen and Cohen sold for $870,000 at auction – the money will help secure Axel Jnr’s future.


Re: Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, film by Nick Broomfield

Posted: Mon Jul 01, 2019 10:56 pm
by LastRose
For those of you live in or around London, there is a preview screening and Q&A with Nick Broomfield at BFI Southbank on 10 July at 18:10:

Hope the link works. If not Google BFI Southbank What's on ... 8987AE1441