CULTURE

Dietrich tribute in Thessaloniki

The Thessaloniki Film Festival has chosen a mythical figure from cinema to kick off its cycle of events this fall. Marlene Dietrich, one of the very few actresses who falls into in the category of «all-time star,» is the subject of the tribute «A Diva’s Myth,» which opens exclusively at the Olympion Cinema in Thessaloniki on Friday. The tribute is co-organized by the Goethe Institute in Thessaloniki in collaboration with Helexpo. Running to September 11, the screenings include 10 (of the actress’s total of 58) films, all of which are restored versions, as well as two documentaries that throw light on Dietrich’s luminous but difficult personality. Most of the films trace Dietrich’s spectacular career in the 1920s and the 1930s. The lineup The following films will be screened during the Thessaloniki tribute: «A Modern Dubarry» directed by Alexander Korda in 1927, «The Women Men Yearn For» by Curtis Bernhardt (1929), «The Blue Angel» by Josef von Sternberg (1930), «Morocco» (1930), «Shanghai Express» (1932), «The Scarlet Empress» (1932), Frank Borzage’s «Desire» (1936), Ernst Lubitsch’s «Angel» (1937) and Tay Garnett’s 1940 «Seven Sinners» (1940). Also on the program are «Marlene,» a 1983 documentary directed by actor Maximilian Schell, in which the 82-year-old actress talks about her life, as well as «Marlene Dietrich’s Second Life,» directed by Christian Bauer. The diva was born in a small town outside Berlin in 1901. Her father, a police lieutenant who raised his daughter in a strictly disciplined environment, died when she was 11 years old. As for Dietrich’s scandalous character, it seems that the rumors which surrounded her were not some publicity stunt developed by the studios. She had always been very sensual, a fact which was apparent from early on and led to one of her teachers being fired during her schooldays. In the early 1920s, Dietrich began working on the cabaret scene. That is where Josef von Sternberg noticed her for the first time, subsequently offering her the leading role in «The Blue Angel,» the film that instantly shot her to fame. Having left her husband Rudolf Sieber (the two had married in 1924 but never divorced; Sieber died in 1976), Dietrich and her lover / personal director von Sternberg took off to the United States in search of a better career. During the 1930s, Dietrich was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood – known for taking on roles of «immoral» women. Though working conditions became increasingly difficult in prewar Hollywood, Dietrich never sought to leave the United States. In permanent conflict with Nazi Germany, Dietrich’s stance sparked great hatred back home. On the other side of the Atlantic, however, she became the most celebrated ambassador of the stars, as she traveled endlessly visiting troops and bringing them much wanted glamour. For all her efforts during the war, she was honored by both the United States and France. Above all, throughout her tempestuous life, Dietrich remained a true star, forever taking care of everything that involved her image right down to the slightest detail. She was known for refusing to shoot a scene if she didn’t have a large mirror next to her in order to check her hair and makeup. She also kept lemon slices in her mouth to keep the muscles tight. As for her shiny on-camera looks, there is a fairly straightforward explanation: She demanded that celebrated makeup artist Max Factor sprinkle her hair with real gold dust, making every single movement one that sparkled.