Title: The Wild One
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Tessa Louise-Salomé
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Iréne Jacob, Peter Bogdanovich
Runtime: 1hr 43 mins
What It Is: A documentary told through interviews and readings about the confrontational works of John Garfein and the effect his life as a Czech Holocaust survivor and director had on Hollywood and the notorious Actors Studio, a troop in which created film figureheads such as Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando.
What We Think: Coming into this story is sort of shocking and strange, it took me a moment to settle into it as it ties together the timeline of Garfein as a formative director and teacher, as well as someone who has survived extreme horror, and abuse in the Holocaust. It’s a dark tale about art and the life of the artist, how the twisted things that happen in life reflect in our work, and how it affects others. In this case, how the film brings the events to light is showing the strange domino effect that lead to an incredible influence on filmmaking and acting. It makes you realize just the scope of history and people it took to create the incredible manchine that is the Actors Studio. All us film-watching Americans, in some way, have seen the work of figures like Garfein without even knowing it.
Interestingly, there’s been a rise in questioning older acting techniques, particularly ‘method acting’ in the face of modern ethics. Hearing of the extreme practices, environments, and long history that went into forming iconic method actors is nearly unbelieveable, though is all brought together in an unforgettable and particularly tragic sense when it tells you just exactly where the experiences applied to ‘extreme acting’ came from in this period of time.
Our Grade: A, A darkly refreshing, fascinating, and important viewing into the deep history behind the rise of some of Hollywood’s finest, as told honestly through the life of Garfein, his radical works, and extreme means of teaching. The documentary itself is beautifully and intricately told and is packed enough even for a rewatch or two.