This very entertaining and sometimes exciting documentary is more than 160 minutes in length. I've watched it 3 times -and it still succeeds in being completely gripping. The viewer feels he is getting close to what made Margot Fonteyn such a captivating ballerina and personality. Anyone interested in dance will probably be enthralled by this film.
She had a thrilling career, but there was apparently a shadow to Fonteyn's marriage and private life, which makes the biography of this marvellous dancer if anything even more compelling. In her art and also in her personal life Fonteyn appears to have been, on the evidence presented here, a woman of astonishing determination.
In telling her story, this perceptive film examines Fonteyn's significant relationships with, amongst others, her Mother (known as "B.Q.", Black Queen), Constant Lambert, Rudolf Nureyev, and her husband Tito Arias. Fonteyn's friends, relations, and colleagues are interviewed, but (with one spectacular exception) this documentary avoids suggestions based on speculation, or hearsay.
There are numerous illustrations of Fonteyn's magical qualities as a dancer found in archive film (of varying quality), as well as footage of Fonteyn off-stage which conveys a sense of her life-enhancing personality. There is very effective use of Prokoviev's music for "Romeo & Juliet" during the documentary, colouring the more dramatic aspects of Fonteyn's life.
Tony Palmer presents the facts relating to the end of Fonteyn's life in a way that is troubling, and difficult to put out of mind. The end of this story could be described as heartbreaking. The final resting place of Dame Margot Fonteyn, who gave the world such grace and joy, should surely be something more than it is at present.
This biographical documentary is one of the best of its kind.
This an impressively researched and fascinating study of an artistic legend. I have now watched this for the fourth time and still been riveted by it. Why? It is stranger than fiction in that it explores the life of a hugely talented human being who managed to experience enormous success and disappointment mostly simultaneously. Tony Palmer has managed to find interviewees who speak honestly and directly to camera about their experiences of Margot at a personal and professional level. Combined with this is some excellent footage of her dancing and of course her partnership/relationship with Nureyev. As a young child I was fortunate enough to see her at the Royal Opera House in Sleeping Beauty and later on in my late teens partner Nureyev as Juliet. The combination of their artistry and chemistry was deeply moving and quite unforgettable. The downside of this is of course her life with Tito portrayed in all its pathos and skullduggery through interviews with the Arias family and newsreel footage. Thank you Tony Palmer.
THIS FILM I SAW RECENTLY ON SKY ARTS. I LIKE TONY PALMER'S FILMS BUT DID NOT KNOW OF IT'S EXISTANCE. IT IS AN AMAZING PIECE OF WORK. THE TALKING HEADS INTERVIEWED ARE ALL INTERESTING PARTICULARLY THE DANCERS WHO KNEW AND WORKED WITH HER. FONTEYN ALSO NARRATES SOME OF IT(PRESUMABLY FROM AN EARLY DOCUMENTARY OF HER LIFE)THE DANCE EXCERPTS ARE MANY AND NOT CUT SHORT. IT IS A LONG FILM BUT HOLDS THE ATTENTION THROUGHOUT. THE END IS OF COURSE HEARTBREAKING. A TREAT FOR BALLET LOVERS OR EVEN IF BALLET IS NOT YOUR THING, A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE.
I really enjoyed this DVD.It's a very entertaining- but honest- warts and all documentary. It gives an excellent insight into the life and times of Margot Fontaine, the legendary Prima Ballerina. She clearly had a very interesting life- both personally and professionally. Financing revolutions whilst being an elegant prima ballerina, being partnered with a much younger Rudolf Nureyev- reinvigorating her career, sadly being betrayed by people around her, and earning a fortune but ultimately being buried in a paupers grave. From rags to riches to rags again. Very touching, sometimes funny, but always very insightful. If you want a DVD documentary about Margot Fontaine- I've seen all the others- this is the one! Enough said. The only slightly annoying thing about this DVD was the sometimes over the top sound levels. But that's it.
Superb production values ensure this biography of England's most famous ballerina doesn't disappoint.
Archived and contemporary interviews with the big names of the Royal Ballet seamlessly progress the narrative whilst footage of Fonteyn and her dancing partners in rehearsal and performance throughout her professional career bear witness to the development of ballet from the 1930s to the 1980s. For the male ballet dancer it's also a useful reminder that Nureyev really did make a difference and the ballerina's prop would become an equal partner.
Nureyev and Fonteyn became big box office bed blockers at the Royal Ballet and the bitterness of great dancers whose opportunities were denied reminds us that blinding light creates deep shadows.
Fonteyn changed her nose and voice as well as her name. As a ballerina she controlled her body superbly but she hardly controlled her life and her love life, not at all. Two youthful abortions, left at the alter by a drunken unfaithful seducer, married to a philandering neglectful crook and an affair with a bisexual man half her age. She had rotten taste in men. Yet when her husband was paralysed from the neck down after being shot by a husband he cuckolded, Fonteyn took control of someone for the first time in her life and revelled in it.
The facts about Margot are so well-known that it is difficult to get anything new. The image of the dancer has been made and un-made. There are some interesting comments here - in particular the ironic contrast with how her husband's relations perceive her life with Tito and how others view it. The great sadness of much of her achieving comes out. Highly recommended.
Interesting but very sad. I had read her biography so knew the story but one felt all the time that she was being used and the ROH should definitely not have made her come to the Benefit when she was a dying woman. Some lovely dance extracts.