A couple of years ago, I did a contest on this site during which I gave away a couple copies of a recently released Japanese documentary about Vivien Leigh. I’m still not sure exactly what it’s called, but according to my Japanese-British friend, it’s something like, “Vivien Leigh: Young Heroine that Loved Eternally.” I call it “The Japanese Vivien Leigh Documentary.”
Made by Basara Ltd. in 2010 as part of a series of TV documentaries that focused on classic film stars that are still big in Japan, “The Japanese Vivien Leigh Documentary” takes a unique approach to telling Vivien’s story. Rather than just replaying Vivien Leigh’s life through photos and video footage, it follows her great-granddaughter, Sophie Farrington, on a journey of discovery. Sophie travelled to London and Hollywood (and to Notley Abbey and Tickerage Mill) to interview those who are still alive who knew Vivien, and in the process learned more about her famous relative.
Like any documentary, there are good and bad things about this one.
- It’s really interesting to see members of Vivien’s family today, especially considering how private they’ve always been.
- There are people interviewed here that I’d never seen in previous documentaries.
- Hearing audio clips of Jack Merivale speaking about Vivien Leigh in an interview with Hugo Vickers.
- I got to help as a photo consultant. Many of the photos used as filler came from my personal collection.
- The editing is very, very sloppy. You’ll notice things like people being cut off mid-sentence, the English translator whispering in the background, cameramen not ducking out of the shots in time.
- Random historical re-enactments.
- They interviewed Sophie having dinner at the Olive Garden. Okay, maybe that should be in the “good” section.
- Sparkly purple text.
- No English subtitles, including names of people being interviewed.
People featured include Hugo Vickers, Trader Faulkner, Tarquin Olivier, Ann Rutherford, Daniel Selznick, Sally Hardy (Jack Merivale’s step-sister), Louise Olivier, Rupert Farrington and Amy Farrington.
This documentary has a running time of 90 minutes. It has been uploaded exclusively for readers here at vivandlarry.com and cannot be found on DVD.
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Kendra is the designer and webmistress of vivandlarry.com. She lives in London and is the author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait (Running Press, October 2013). Follow her on Twitter @kendrajbean, on Facebook at Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, or at her official website.
VivAndLarry.com is an historical archive and film blog dedicated to preserving the memories of classic screen and stage stars Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, and to the discussion of classic Hollywood and world cinemas. The site is designed and edited by Kendra Bean, a film scholar, writer and photographer living in London. What you'll find here: A cabinet of curiosities brimming with vintage articles, video footage, the largest archive of Vivien Leigh and/or Laurence Olivier photos on the Web, and much, much more.
This site is updated frequently, so pull up a chair and stay a while! Or, subscribe to be notified whenever new posts are made.
The current header was designed and drawn by the brilliant Laura Loveday.
My book, Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, is now available for purchase at fine book sellers in the US, UK and Canada. You can also order online!
Read Vivien Leigh: Becoming Scarlett by Kendra Bean in issue no. 75 of Bright Lights Film Journal
Read Kendra's article Style Icon: Vivien Leigh at The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower
My running list of films watched in 2013.
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- friends of the oliviers (3)
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