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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

My Week With Marilyn

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

A few years ago I was at a lecture by film critic, academic and historian Richard A. Blake, SJ, at the University of Dayton. (In 2000 he published “Afterimage: The Indelible Catholic Imagination of Six American Film Makers”, a book every film student would do well to read. Blake also reviews films for “America” magazine.)

During the Q & A that followed his lecture about the great male film directors throughout history, I asked Fr. Blake if there was at least one female director that had made a significant contribution to the history of Hollywood. He thought for a moment and then said, “Well, if there is one woman who has done so it would be Marilyn Monroe.” He did not elaborate. All I could think of is that if Marilyn were alive today, she and Blake would be about the same age. Tragically, Marilyn died of a suspected overdose in 1962. I was ten years old and I remember her death well, though I was much more impressed and saddened by the death of my hero Superman, i.e., George Reeves in 1959. Maybe it’s an age thing.

I ran into the same adulation for Monroe when I took a History of Film course at the University of London while studying for my master’s degree. The instructor seemed besotted by Marilyn Monroe, and frankly none of us students, co-ed from twelve countries, between the ages of 23 and 63) could understand it.

But if Oscar-nominated actress Michelle Williams’ performance as Marilyn Monroe is to be believed, then perhaps Richard Blake’s opinion, as well as that of my instructor, has some substance in terms of the unattainable dream that Marilyn represented and filmmakers created.

“My Week with Marilyn” is based on a true story as told in two books by Colin Clark, the third assistant to director/actor Sir Laurence Olivier in the making of the 1956 film “The Prince and the Showgirl.” Marilyn would have been 30 years old at the time, on her third marriage, and Colin, 24, a young, likeable, single filmmaker wannabe. Colin was kind to her and they spent some free time together (one skinny dipping scene) and a comforting non-sexual night. Marilyn lacked confidence and was joined at the hip to an acting coach as well as assistants who gave her pills for everything.

Michelle Williams’ performance was spot on, but so was that of Judy Dench as the mother of the prince, though she seemed to have most of the dialogue throughout the film.

This film, directed by Simon Curtis, seemed to really be about capturing the aura and pathos of the life of two gifted and beautiful actresses: Marilyn and Michelle. I think Michelle has already learned enough lessons from the film business to last a lifetime. (Michelle Williams has a daughter with Heath Ledger, who died in 2008 of an accidental overdose.)


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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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