Stephanie Billen meets Marianne Sagebrecht (below) and, on the following pages, Ellen Barkin interviewed, and the latest releases reviewed.
INDEX: 14 LISTINGS: WEEK ONE 22 WEEK TWO 24
As the trilogy of films which began with Sugarbaby is completed by Rosalie Goes Shopping, Marianne Ségebrecht talks to Stephanie Billen about the pain and pleasure
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|-..:. / 0-, ‘I.<:. Q. ..0‘ ..A\ n“ , An hour with Marianne Ségebrecht makes you 52:33; I _ ‘t if; ‘ "i ‘3' ‘- wonder what they did to herin the movies. After 0 ‘ 'A I I I " I all, what is special about Marianne on celluloid is ' 3 I»;
the magnificence of her presence, her large glowing body, her smile, the strength behind her silence. In person, the silent Séigebrecht is the nervous, twitchy Siigebrecht. Only when she talks— as she does nineteen to the dozen and in her own ﬂuent Germanic idiom — is she fully alive, cheerfully extending every photo-shoot and interview so that she delays everyone and offends no one.
Rosalie Goes Shopping is the third of the Percy Adlon/Marianne Ségebrecht trilogy, which began with Sugarbaby, and probably reached its peak with the enchanting Bagdad Cafe about a Bavarian housewife who finds herself magically transforming a run-down cafe in the middle of the Arizona desert. The director’s trick in each case has been to expand on characteristics within the actress herself. ‘You can be afraid of this in a way’, admits Ségebrecht. ‘Between every character we have tried to develop a new one. After Sugar Baby Percy said “Marianne, there is another lady in you. I want to discover her.” So we did Bagdad Cafe.‘
In the midst of this film, Adlon was nurturing another idea. ‘He wrote a little treatment, but he didn’t speak to me about this because he knows if he is telling me too much I become crazy and afraid . . . After one year he came to me and said: ‘Marianne, there is another lady too.’ And I was a little bit afraid. He gave me this treatment and l was completely afraid.’
The part he was offering was that of Rosalie , a devoted Bavarian wife who lives with her crOp-sprayer husband, his little yellow aeroplane, and the couple’s huge family in
Stuttgart, Arkansas. To finance the clan’s expensive lifestyles, she fiddles some 37 credit cards. When she gets hold of a computer, she brazenly hacks into a local bank to sort out her debts. Initially Ségebrecht was horrified. ‘This lady really likes to consume; her ego is very, very big, but at the same time for the family she is a big mama. But she is stealing. So her feeling is “I am not guilty”. She is a Catholic. She says “This is my percentage” . . . From time to time I like her more and more and now I am very happy. . . I learnt to say “OK, I am sometimes like her”. I got debts but I could pay the debts back. But it is a little bit the same . . . I didn’t want to make a parody about women who are like Rosalie, so I say no, it’s me too.‘
Even after Bagdad Cafe, Séigebrecht felt that Adlon should be working with other actresses— Catherine Deneuve, she suggests intriguingly. But after Rosalie, the role with which she felt least comfortable, she made a definite break with the director and his wife and film-making partner Eleanore. ‘I say “Percy, now we have done this three characters in six years and after Rosalie, there is no other person just now.” And I say I go on a journey and you go on a journey and maybe in six years or ten years we coming together. . .
Since Rosalie Goes Shopping Ségebrecht, who started out as a psychiatric nurse and went into cabaret before she found her niche as Adlon’s filmstar, has had no shortage of parts. Among them has been the nanny in Danny de Vito’s The War of the Roses, and the ill-fated German maid in Martha and l, a film by the septuagenarian Czech director Jiri Weiss. The tragic story of the maid’s marriage into a Jewish family at the time of the Nazi rising, proved deeply affecting for the actress. ‘Sometimes I felt she was with me . . . I look in front of the mirror and it’s like . . . ’ (Marianne gasps expressively). ‘It’s very hard.’
Less hard apparently was the experience of sacrificing the oddly glamorous image encouraged for her by the Adlons. ‘At the end she becomes very old and grey and wrinkled. NOW I know exactly how I am looking when I am 70 years old.’ An unlikely sex-symbol — ‘In the streets they say “Marianna, can we give you a hug?” It’s so wonderful for me . . . ’ Ségebrecht smiles reassuringly. ‘The funny thing is, I like myselfvery much in this old version.‘
Rosalie Goes Shopping opens at Glasgow Film Theatre on Sun 17, and Edinburgh Filmhouse on Sun 18.
The List 9— 22 February 199013