Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Song for Marion

On the Saturday I went to see Song for Marion which had me in floods of tears as it touched several emotional nerves and proved a strange choice for a birthday celebration. The film features two outstanding film actors of my generation, Vanessa Redgrave aged 76 and Terence Stamp 75. Vanessa was an outstanding stage actress who I have seen in an Ibsen play Three Sisters with her two sisters and where her roles in Ibsen’s work became as highly regarded as those in Shakespearean productions. She also became involved with the far left which had some damaging consequences, especially across the pond. My best remembered role is her performance as Isadora Duncan in the film Isadora.


In this film she plays a wife and mother who after battling with cancer is advised it has returned and become terminal. She continues to participate in a choir of elders at a local community centre run as an extra by a young teacher played by Gemma Aterton who has arranged for the choir to be assessed as suitable for inclusion in a national singing competition for choirs and for Marion to sing a solo. She dies before the competition finale.


Marion is married to a crusty rather angry man played by Terence Stamp who became as much a legend off the screen as on for his relationships with Julie Christie with whom he stared, Brigit Bardot and the supermodel Jean Shrimpton. He did not marry until the age of 64 and this only lasted six years.


He has become dependent on his wife, resents the time she is away at the singing although he goes out one night a week with three male friends, drinking and playing pub working men’s club games and while doting on his grand daughter is always angry with his son played by (Dr Who) Christopher Eccleston. Why he has such anger and a bad relationship is not made clear or the position of daughter in law who never appears or is referenced.


After the death of Marion the husband becomes a recluse telling his son he does not wish to have further contact with him. He is visited by the leader of the choir and eventually is persuaded to participate in the choir and separately to prepare a song (for Marion) which he sings at the concert. There is also a gradual softening of the relationship between father and son and the choir with his help is awarded third prize after nearly not performing because they turned up casual and rather garish clothing.

The film is part of the recent move to feature the older established British actors in films dealing with the problem of their (and my generation) The Exotic Marigold Quartet and Quartet.

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