Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Myth of Marlon Brando

"I was very convincing in my pose of indifference -- but I'm very sensitive, and it hurt, a lot." - Marlon Brando about the hit to his reputation after filming "Mutiny on the Bounty"
What was fascinating about Brando was that he introduced me, in a big way, to the idea of myth. I didn’t analyze myth nearly so closely as when he was giving a tutorial and saying this is an amazing thing, that myth is all-pervasive. He said myth dominates our lives in a way that we lose control of, and we very quickly lose sight of the truth. Truth was always what he was interested in -- truth meaning social realism and the Method and Greek theater. That was all his idealism right there. And then the rest of his life was a deteriorated life worth living. It was about his loss of faith in mankind and his inability to actually grasp and hold on to the truth, and myth -- the myth of everything: the myth of one’s partner, one’s parents, one’s self, even, and the myth of bigger things, whether it’s the myth of goodness and justice and America
I think it really, genuinely crippled him. It was not his nature. He loved to observe and he loved to be out in the world and to see people, and he was a voyeur. He said, "That was my thing, that’s what made me tick, was observing people." He was morbidly fascinated. It was great equipment as an actor. I’m not sure anyone would have shared his obsession with everyone’s tics. He used to find people’s perimeter, their silhouette, and prod and nudge until he found what made them break or what made them react. Even as an old man, he would go and watch people with binoculars from his car at a distance with a hat on while they were at the bus stop. He was trapped by fame when he couldn’t leave his walls. 
It’s interesting. When asked one of his PA's, who is actually one of the trustees of his estate, because she spent many years with him: “If he’d had the chance to give it all up and be an ordinary citizen and do away with all that, do you think he would have done it?” And she said, "That’s really tricky." She goes, "I’m not sure that he would give it up, because it did give him access to things. He wanted to educate himself, and he could pick up the phone to any university professor or he could pick up the phone to any senator." He could get access to people to learn from. I don’t know whether she’s right, but I do think about how much fame affected him and how much he wanted to get away from it.
There’s a lot to suggest that there was a lot of life left to him at the end. He actually found a degree of peace in the aftermath of his daughter’s suicide. I think he did that through meditation. It’s amazing, his capacity to survive.
 He was quite self-reliant. He was a latchkey kid, his parents weren’t around. He’d often be wandering by himself. I think he was used to his own space and his own world. He hadn’t fully discovered himself yet. I wonder whether Brando did fully know himself at the time fame hit. He said he was in therapy for the rest of his life. I just don’t think he wanted to be gazed upon like an animal in a zoo. He was the prized scout of the paparazzi. I watched a film about these three guys who were the top paparazzi and they were asked, "Who’s your main target?", and all of them said Brando. They’re all pretty ruthless guys, and poor Brando is being hunted. I just think it’s an interesting treatise on fame.
Well, you can see around “Guys and Dolls” how ruffled he is, and you can tell that he wasn’t prepared for that. That’s pre-Beatles. It’s pre-Elvis. He was the forerunner for that whole hysteria.

No comments: