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Margot Fonteyn portrait


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45 replies to this topic

#1 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 01:40 PM

The Swedish TV has just broadcast a film on Margot Fonteyn. It is simply called "Margot" and is made by Tony Palmer who is a veteran in the field of opera and theater. It is a long film, 2 hours and 55 mins - also available on DVD. This film was made in 2005.
Has anybody seen it? It would be nice to hear your opinion!

#2 Helene

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 02:19 PM

It does not paint a favorable portrait of Tito.

#3 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 02:59 PM

Indeed not, nevertheless I found a lot to be true. I will of course not divulge my sources here, but I actually have some inside information.
The real problem, IMO, was that Fonteyn was treated like some kind of royalty in England, and she also behaved as such outwardly, always covering up - so I think we can conclude that this film came fairly close to the actual truth.
My own personal feeling was that I felt desperately sorry for her - she cant have had many happy hours in her life, not off stage at any rate. Then of course her taste in men was immature to say the very least. But
who am I to judge! Constant Lambert one might have views on, but consider the circumstances! She was young and on the brink of her career and here was somebody who actually composed music for her. I think I would have fallen flat if the devil himself had composed music for me.
But without a doubt, Tito was the final disaster, pity she didnt go through with her divorce. Then again, we must consider England in those days, the sixties. Divorce was not thought of as "quite nice" and the divorce laws were rather old fashioned and odd.

#4 canbelto

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 04:04 PM

I think this film is going to be released in the U.S. on June 27. I really want to see it, if it's 3 hours long. Margot was set to go through with the divorce before Tito got shot, but his paralysis killed that idea, excuse the pun. And taking care of Tito's medical problems drained Margot's finances terribly. It seems terribly unfair to Margot, all the suffering she went through for a man who was unfaithful to her to the end. (His mistress shot herself the day Tito died. This is all documented in the Daneman book.)
Reading about Margot and Tito always makes me almost as sad as reading about Tracy and Hepburn's off-screen life.
I think the only man who was truly loyal to Margot was Nureyev, despite the blowups they had.

#5 papeetepatrick

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 04:50 PM

Margot Fonteyn can't be separated from her royal image, and I don't see why anyone would want to, since you can so clearly see how much a part of her stage presence it is when you watch the old films of her with Nureyev. I wish there were more such problems, there's certainly little enough of dignity like Fonteyn's in today's world. Footage of her in that 1991 Nureyev documentary show her in all her mature aristocratic beauty; you'd think she and Audrey Hepburn were sisters, the resemblance was so uncanny as they got older, dying within a couple of years of each other and fairly close in age. Nureyev helped her with a lot of the medical bills, as is well-known. I only saw her once in person, in 'Poeme de l'Ecstase' to Scriabine and Klimt-inspired sets.

#6 carbro

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 06:48 PM

With all due respect to Dame Margot, her heydey was in an era when the press hadn't yet become a flock of carnivores drooling for the red meat of people's private lives. Had she been thirty years younger, we might have been as well versed in her marital troubles as we unwittingly became in Bill and Hillary's, Diana and Charles'. Maintaining a regal dignity was possible then, but I don't think it would be now.

#7 canbelto

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 06:59 PM

How are the dancing clips? Is there new stuff that we haven't seen?
And who's interviewed? di Valois? Ashton? Nureyev? Keith Money? Other Royal Ballet dancers? Although I know this film will be released on dvd in a month I am just really curious about this film.
Its like, I want to see it, NOW!!!!!!!!!!! :huh:

#8 drb

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 08:11 PM

How are the dancing clips? Is there new stuff that we haven't seen?
And who's interviewed? di Valois? Ashton? Nureyev? Keith Money? Other Royal Ballet dancers? Although I know this film will be released on dvd in a month I am just really curious about this film.
Its like, I want to see it, NOW!!!!!!!!!!! :huh:

You MAY see some of it now! Back in late November the whole thing was broadcast on the Ovation network and discussed under Heads Up:
http://ballettalk.in...showtopic=21111
I just checked and the Ovation link given still works. You can read about the program and click on to two clips, one dancing (REALLY good!) and one about her gun-runnig for Tito.

#9 canbelto

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 08:30 PM

Thanks I saw the clips! I cringe at all of the gun running footage. I just think it was horrible for Tito to involve his wife in something like that. But it does seem like an engrossing documentary, and I can't wait to see the whole thing.

#10 Helene

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 09:28 PM

Margot has been available from Dance Books in the UK since last year. It's 17,99 GBP plus shipping. It's all region, and although I don't see a format listed explicitly, it must be NTSC, because the DVD player that came with my TiVo doesn't play PAL.

In the first 35 minutes or so, the following people spoke: Lynn Seymour, Colette Clark (former assistant to Fonteyn), Avril Bergen, Meredith Daneman, David Scrase (director of the Fitzwilliam Museum), Phoebe Fonteyn (Fonteyn's brother's wife), Peter Wright, Hilda Hookham, Keith Money, Margot Fonteyn, Patsy Lady Jellicoe, Beryl Grey, Ninette de Valois, Pamela May, Frederick Ashton, Robert Helpman, John Tooley, Andrew Motion (Constant Lambert's biographer), and Wendy Ellis Somes. There were film clips from Swan Lake (second half of White Swan pas de deux, in color), Aurora's Act III solo (in color), short clips of: First Arabesque (1937), Act I pas de deux from Giselle (from an amateur film), a film called "Stepping to Stardom," Constant Lambert conducting, some glam montage footage of Fonteyn, Aurora's Awakening (with Somes, in black and white), Fonteyn at the barre broken into smaller clips and interspersed with voiceovers, a couple of studio clips of Fonteyn in a tutu, and two remarkable clips of Facade between which Pamela May, then an elderly woman, described how they saw German soldiers "falling from the sky," followed by a description of wartime by Fonteyn, deValois, Helpmann, Ashton, and Grey. (Those few minutes alone would have been worth the brutal exchange rate between GBP and USD.) There are also amazing photos of the child Fonteyn and the breathtakingly beautiful young Fonteyn.

But a warning: a film whose narrative begins with, "This is the story of how the most famous dancer that England has ever produced was deceived and betrayed by those closest to her," and in which former assistant Colette Clark asserts that Fonteyn, "had really bad taste in people...If you really want to know, that is rather what separated her and me. I couldn't quite face all the creeps," is not for the weak of stomach.

#11 canbelto

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Posted 28 May 2006 - 08:59 AM

Well considering how some of Fonteyn's "favorite people" included Pinochet and Imelda Marcos, I'd have to say that Clark's statement was sad but true ...
Must. Have. This. Dvd.

#12 Susanne

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Posted 28 May 2006 - 12:49 PM

I was rather surprised by it, first its length and its content as well. It was rather clear where the sympathies of the filmmaker was.

I had expected it to be more of a documentrary about her as an artist, rather than her private affairs. But the of course, perhaps many films have already been made on that subject of Fonteyn. :jawdrop:

I saw the DVD at HMV when I visited Aberdeen 6 months ago, and thought of buying it. In retrorespect, I am glad I didn't.

Funny to hear that I am not the only one who finds a striking resemblance between Fonteyn and Audrey Hepburn though :).

#13 Joseph

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 09:31 AM

I think I want to get this!

#14 Mashinka

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 08:44 AM

“The real problem, IMO, was that Fonteyn was treated like some kind of royalty in England, and she also behaved as such outwardly, always covering up - so I think we can conclude that this film came fairly close to the actual truth.”


No, this film comes nowhere near the truth, it is poor filmmaking and in part downright scurrilous. It was first shown as a two part documentary on the South Bank Show on UK television last year and follows in the shameful British tradition of re-evaluating the lives of dead celebrities – make up what you like about them, they’re dead and can’t sue. Major achievements are brushed aside as irrelevant while any hint of scandal is magnified and blown out of proportion.

The South Bank Show purports to be an arts programme but Fonteyn’s career is glossed over in favour of unsavoury speculation supported by people with grudges. Fonteyn’s talent created jealousies that still fester with lesser artists: ever heard Nadia Nerina sounding off about her former colleague?

Margot Fonteyn never behaved like “some kind of royalty” but she always behaved with dignity and displayed true nobility in her loyalty to her crippled husband. She belonged to an age when duty and decorum were regarded as virtues, not as character flaws.

Buy it for the dancing clips, but take almost everything that is said with a very large pinch of salt.

#15 canbelto

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 09:52 AM

I understand how beloved Margot Fonteyn is, but I don't think that ignoring anything remotely negative in her personal life is going to her any favors. In fact, it made me admire Fonteyn more, to know that she wasn't just this prim and proper prig, but in fact went through hardship and heartbreak just like everyone else.


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