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Thursday, 23 December 2010

"Sag mir wo die Blumen Sind" - Marlene Dietrich, 1963

This is one of my favourite, if not my favourite, rendition by Marlene. Just listening to it gives me goosebumps - her voice conveys so much emotion in such an understated way - but seeing her performing it in this video is a whole other thing. She's not acting, and in a way, I don't think she's even performing. She's living the song - living the the angry sadness of the words.

Sag wo die Soldaten sind
Wo sind sie geblieben
Sag wo die Soldaten sind
Was ist gescheh'n
Sag wo die Soldaten sind
Über Gräbern weht der Wind
Wann wird man je verstehn
Wann wird man je verstehn

Sag mir wo die Gräber sind
Wo sind sie geblieben
Sag mir wo die Gräber sind
Was ist gescheh'n
Sag mir wo die Gräber sind
Blumen blüh'n im Sommerwind
Wann wird man je verstehn
Wann wird man je verstehn

Marlene sang two other versions of this song: the original English version (if you're not aware, Sag mir wo die Blumen sind is the German version of the song Where Have All the Flowers Gone?) and a French version, Où vont les fleurs? Whilst her French and English renditions are both quite beautiful, I think that the German version is the version which best captures the meaning of the song.

On tumblr today the wonderful Cara of illustratedstorybook (who is a fount of Marlene knowledge - I've learnt so much from her.) posted a quote from Rosemary Clooney about Marlene.

"Seeing Marlene and hearing Marlene in Las Vegas was always a thrill for me. I saw Marlene on the stage and she just - she was a vision. She really wanted to be perfect in any way that she could - every way that she could. To listen to her sing though, always made me a little sad because there was a wistfulness about Lili Marleen, about Where Have All the Flowers Gone?… Not wistfulness there - there was an anger because of the words and the way that she interpreted it. It was uh, it was quite special."

Firstly, I would have LOVED to have been able to see Marlene perform on stage. We're so lucky that we have quite a lot of recordings of her performances, and that we have her records and films, but what I would give to go back in time and see her there - in front of my very eyes - giving those wonderful, legendary performances! Secondly, Rosemary completely summed up my feelings for Marlene's three versions of Where Have All the Flowers Gone?. There are no other versions of the song which adequately capture it's pain and sorrow, in my opinion. I'd always disregarded the song, but as soon as I heard Marlene's interpretation of it I couldn't get it out of my head. She turned it into a beautiful, painful, and exquisitely profound song. You can hear her heart aching as she almost chokes on the poignancy of the question, Where have all the flowers gone?/long time passing/Where have all the flowers gone?/long time ago.

I could probably go on about this song for hours, but I won't. I'll just leave you to listen to it, and soak it up.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

New Layout!

I've wanted to change my layout for quite a while now but, not being able to design a layout myself and having searched and searched but failed to find a layout to my liking, I'd almost given up. However, today I decided I'd give it another go and I finally found something I like. I thought I'd have a Christmassy/Wintery theme for the time being, and then change it to something more "neutral" after New Year. I'll probably keep the header though, I like seeing my dear Deborah there! Anyway, I hope you like it!

Aaaaand, here's a photo of Arlene being usual her lovely, beautiful self ;D

Photo of the Day

Deborah and Jean, two of my favourite people!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Movie Blogger Sponsored Survey

Hey there! Over at the LAMB there's a movie survey taking place sponsored by PriceMinister, and if you post about it (note: you have to post about it, not just take the survey) you win a free DVD (you can choose from Inception, La Dolce Vita (the only classic), The Hangover, The Ghost Writer, Lost Highway, and Eclipse).

You can take the survey here: http://www.priceminister.co.uk/events.html

Also, check out PriceMinister's large classic film selection.


It's you, Lili Marleen, it's you, Lili Marleen...

Recently I've been really loving Marlene Dietrich. I've always liked her, but only in the last few months have I begun to appreciate how talented and absolutely fabulous she really was as a actress/singer/performer.

I've seen just over 10 of her films, and my favourites have to be the Dietrich/Von Sternberg films: Der Blaue Engel (1930), Morocco (1930), Dishonored (1931), Shanghai Express (1932), Blonde Venus (1932), The Scarlet Empress (1934), and The Devil is a Woman (1935). I thought I'd seen them all, but then I realised I'd got confused and two of the films I saw weren't actually Von Sternberg's! I've now seen all of them except The Scarlet Empress, and I have to say that I think they're all magnificent films. The first four are my favourites, and if pressed, I would say that Morocco is probably my favourite of all of them.

I recently watched Mata Hari (1931) and, although I'd heard that it was very similar to Dishonored, I was taken aback at how similar they really were. From what I gather, Paramount rushed into making Dishonored with Marlene starring when they found out that MGM was putting Greta Garbo in MH. Although the MGM film was overall much sleeker and more lavish in it's sets, costumes, and even dialogue, I much preferred Dishonored - it was more real and more engaging, in my opinion. Let me know which is your favourite, and why, if you've seen them both :)

Onto Marlene as a singer. I LOVE her voice. I could listen to it for days. She may not have been the greatest singer in the world, but her unique and beautiful tone is more compelling to listen to than some of the "greatest" West End/Broadway voices. A few years ago my singing teacher said to me that my "... voice is like Marlene Dietrich's.". Like Marlene, my singing voice, as well as being quite low, isn't clear and precise. It's not really husky like Marlene's, but it's... muffled. I think that's the best way to put it! Anyway, I think that's one of the most lovely compliments I've ever received. I was grinning for a long time after she said that ;D

If you've never listened to any of Marlene's songs, I suggest you listen to:

Lili Marleen
La Vie en Rose
Where Have All the Flowers Gone/ Ou Vont Les Fleurs/ Sag Mir Wo Die Blumen Sind
Ich Bin Von Kopf Fuss Auf Liebe Eingestellt
Johnny Wenn Du Geburtstag Hast
Dejéuner Du Matin
Der Trommelmann
Meines Blonde Baby

There are hundreds of her songs to choose from, so you should really give her a chance to make you swoon with her gorgeous voice ;)

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Oh, how I love Christmas films!

I love Christmastime. I love the carols and songs, I love the mince pies and ginger wine, I love the decorations, I love going to Midnight Mass, I love being with family... I love EVERYTHING about it! I also, obviously, love Christmas films and the films that, whilst not of a particularly Christmassy nature, are usually shown on British t.v. during Christmastime. I love the old ones and the new ones, just as long as they're about Christmas I'm happy. Therefore, I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite Christmas films. I wouldn't normally post about post-1970 films, but for this post the majority of the films are modern films.

White Christmas (1954)

I remember my Mum buying this film in HMV when I was about 8. I also remember thinking it would be a load of rubbish. Oh, how wrong I was!! I adore this film. Everything about it is perfect - the Christmas theme, Rosemary Clooney's voice, Rosemary Clooney's fabulousness in general, Vera-Ellen's dancing, Bing Crosby's voice and Danny Kaye's comedic talent. It's not just one of my favourite Christmas films, but also one of my all time favourite films. If you haven't seen it, you should go out, buy it and come home immediately to watch it!

Home Alone (1990)

I grew up watching this film. I've lost count of how many times I've seen it now, but it NEVER gets old. I could watch it a hundred more times and I'd still love it as much. There's no film that gets me more in Christmassy mood than this film (and it's sequel).

Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992)

I can never decide whether I love the first Home Alone film or this, it's sequel, better. They're both hilarious and poignant in so many ways, and can always put a smile on my face. The best way to watch both of these films is to watch them with my Dad - his laughter whilst watching Harry and Marv stand on nails/set their heads on fire/get electrocuted etc. etc. is so infectious.

Miracle On 34th Street (1947)

I think I actually saw the 1994 version of this film before the original, and I do love them both, but you really can't beat Maureen O'Hara, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn. The film is one of the most magical Christmas films there is.

Elf (2003)

I first saw this film about 3 years ago, when I was watching t.v. and just happened to flip over the channel and catch it at the beginning. I couldn't stop watching, and I've adored it ever since. It still makes me laugh, even though I've seen it more times than I should probably disclose ;) I think it's the perfect blend of humour, poignancy, and make believe. I really love the beautiful way in which Buddy looks at the world and it's many marvels - with so many of them being things that we wouldn't normally think of as marvels. The world would be a much more joyful place if more people saw the world like Buddy does :)

Love Actually (2002)

I refused to watch this for ages because it didn't sound like it would be my cup of tea at all, but when I finally watched I fell in love with. There are only a select few modern romcoms that I like, and this is probably my favourite of the bunch. It has a (mostly) superb cast - Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Hugh Grant, to name but a few. Some of the storylines are truly beautiful, with my favourites being David (Liam Neeson) and Sam (Thomas Sangster), Jamie and Aurélia, Billy Mack (Billy Nighy) and Joe (Gregor Fisher). It's not a children's Christmas film, but nevertheless, there's a really magical atmosphere about it.

Shrek (2001)

In recent years, Shrek always seems to be shown on British t.v. on Christmas Eve, and I only ever seem to get around to watching it then, so I know it's really Christmas when Shrek is on the t.v.!

The Holiday (2006)

I definitely don't think that this is one the most enjoyable Christmas films ever made, and half of the plot just makes me yawn, but Kate Winslet's character, Iris, and the story surrounding her really intrigues me. I love the film just for Iris and the snowy scenes really, but I think if it wasn't set at Christmas I wouldn't be so enthusiastic.

Other favourite films to watch at this time of year...

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

The Family Stone (2005)

I know I've not posted for a while, but hopefully I'll be back to posting more regularly soon :)
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