Imelda

"Excellent"

Imelda Review


The truly remarkable Imelda Marcos did history a great service by agreeing to sit down for an interview with documentarian Ramona S. Diaz for her searing documentary, Imelda. Though Marcos initially agreed to only 15 minutes, the talk ended up lasting five incredible hours, and the result, intercut with old news footage and comments from both her cronies and her opposition, is an unforgettable portrait of complete self-delusion.

Those who remember Imelda only as the dictator's wife who squandered her country's wealth on shoes are missing one hell of a story. It all begins in the southern Philippines, where Imelda was plucked from obscurity by appearing in a number of beauty pageants that led up to a second-place finish in a national contest. True to form, she bitched until the judges changed the results and declared her the winner. Imelda recounts this story with great amusement, and it's easy to see how her undeniable charm could work magic on everyone from Henry Kissinger to Saddam Hussein.

After latching on to the dynamic young Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda enjoyed a quick rise to the top of the Philippines' famously crazy political system. As first lady (and also governor of metro Manila) she saw her role as being the shining star to which the downtrodden masses could look for inspiration. She carefully explains that she spent twice as much time primping to meet the peasants as she did to meet heads of states. They expected her to wear only the best clothes... and the best shoes, she says.

A decade-long spending spree on cultural centers left greater Manila dotted with spectacular but mostly unused edifices in which Imelda hoped to stage events that would put Manila on a cultural par with New York and Paris, this while the masses lived in squalor. Scenes of Imelda traveling the world attending glittering parties and meeting world leaders are fun to watch as she reminisces about the glamour of it all. How great to see George Hamilton serenading her on her yacht.

Given the limited amount of time Diaz was granted, she chose not to debate any of Imelda's absurd assertions with her, such as the one where she says her husband never held political prisoners (in reality, he held 70,000). Instead, Diaz lets historians and political dissenters, some of whom were torture victims, bounce their realities off Imelda's. It's a stunningly stark contrast. We also meet Imelda's dressmaker, who today has to balance the justifiable pride he has in his gorgeous creations with the guilt he feels about his somewhat ill-gotten gains. In an amusing aside, one of Imelda's female detractors even defends the shoes, saying that anyone who knows Filipinas knows they just love to shop for shoes. She herself has 400 pairs, she admits.

The documentary reaches its pinnacle of absurdity when Imelda decides to take a few minutes to explain her personal system of cosmological philosophy, a truly deranged tangle of numbers, shapes, and diagrams which she carefully sketches out on a big white pad. It's a journey into the mind of a well-coiffed madwoman who, like so many world leaders, has spent too much time surrounded by sycophants who tell her nothing but how great and brilliant she is. Even today she lives in a certain amount of grandeur, funded no doubt from one of the Swiss bank accounts that authorities couldn't uncover.

Imelda studied the Eva Peron playbook carefully, and you have to grudgingly give the old broad a certain amount of credit for her self-invention and the rather long and incredible ride she's enjoyed. Even in disgrace, and even with Diaz's accusing camera in her face as she strikes a devoted pose over her husband's wax-covered corpse, she still seems to be enjoying it immensely.

Aka Imelda - Power, Myth, Illusion.



Imelda

Facts and Figures

Run time: 103 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 12th September 2009

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Ramona S. Diaz

Producer:

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.