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Marlene Dietrich - Essay Example

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She was able to cultivate an image that people easily identify as her persona and, most importantly, an image that created a need based on the desires of the audience. Through the manner by which her image was carefully defined, scripted and invented, Dietrich was able to hold onto the material and spiritual power which allowed her image to exemplify “society producing the impasse into which it casts its members on the level of the libido as much as on the level of economics: the desire for what cannot be avoided without a radical rupture with the world that has formed us.” Consider how some critics point out that the success of The Blue Angel was not because of an excellent storyline or the genius of neither its director, Josef von Sternberg nor its sexual context. If one says that the film succeeded because of Lola’s legs, then those that featured the same theme with different actresses exploiting equally excellent thighs could have been as effective. But that is not the case. With the film, men were given an object of desire that is mostly according to what Dietrich had to give. Lola’s legs and her character did not merely become the foundation of the Dietrich image that movie audience carried in their heads. It was Dietrich’s acumen and sense of what she wanted and how she wanted to be seen and perceived that made the difference. As she made her films, Dietrich learned how to best represent herself, highlight her assets or make an aspect of persona prominent....
Lola’s legs and her character did not merely become the foundation of the Dietrich image that movie audience carried in their heads. It was Dietrich’s acumen and sense of what she wanted and how she wanted to be seen and perceived that made the difference. As she made her films, Dietrich learned how to best represent herself, highlight her assets or make an aspect of persona prominent. This is demonstrated, for instance, in the invention of the so-called “Dietrich face.” In the earlier photographs of Dietrich, her upturned nose is quite obvious. As a matter of fact, this minor flaw has earned her the moniker "Ducknose" because it is stuck up like those of the duck’s.3 Critics were particularly focused in this aspect during Dietrich early career that is why she learned how to work around it. Later photographs would no longer show this weakness prompting some sectors to say she underwent facial surgery. This, of course, was not true because it was Dietrich herself who discovered how she could address the problem. Bach explained this in detail: She found it in an automatic photo booth in Berlin, the kind that prints out cheap photograph on strips. She stepped into one to pose, actively searching for a look, and discovered that with a single overhead lamp, her hair went light, she had cheekbones, her pale blue eyes went dark, the upturned nose became straight. There would be sophisticated refinements of makeup and technique, but now the difficulty was getting cameramen to light her her way.4 One can say that Dietrich became a technician in this way. She would go against directions if the lighting is against her wishes. This “stubbornness” actually paid off. Besides appearing more pleasing, the ...Show more
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In 1999, the American Film Institute declared that Marlene Dietrich is the 9th greatest actress in American cinema of all time. The paper "Marlene Dietrich" discusses the images that Marlene Dietrich created in the cinema and its influence on the mass culture…
Marlene Dietrich
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