I, Anybody

Jonathan Rosenbaum, I, Dalio or The Rules of the Game, the short subject about actor Marcel Dalio:

[director Mark] Rappaport takes us on a fictional tour through an actor’s career, albeit one supported by a great deal of research and careful film-watching, that proposes some enlightening ways of reinventing how we watch movies, teaching and hugely entertaining us at the same time.

Using another actor to portray the subject of a documentary has been done before, of course, most notably with This is Elvis, in which three different actors narrated the film as Elvis to give the feel, as the viewer watched actual footage and real interviews, that one was listening to Elvis himself narrate his tragic life.  The narration was scripted but in others, like the great American Masters episode on Rod Serling, the narration, again by an actor, this time pretending to be Rod Serling, was taken directly from Serling’s own writings, and so he really was, in effect, narrating his own life story.   Here, in I, Dalio, the narration is scripted and the subject’s voice performed by another but this method seems to me a great way to gain insight into the life of its subject while at the same time shying away from the outright fictional biopic treatment, ala Trumbo or Patton or Chaplin.  Excepting Patton, I know from watching the documentary Trumbo, in which his voice is provided by many actors, and reading and watching interviews with Charlie Chaplin, from the fifties into the seventies, that I would much prefer the I, Dalio approach to biography than the standard biopic, quickly becoming a genre I cannot bear.

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