Obsession: Marlene Dietrich: The Pierre Passebon Collection

Image of Obsession: Marlene Dietrich: The Pierre Passebon Collection
Release Date: 
January 16, 2018
Reviewed by: 

Anyone who knows anything about the old Hollywood studio system will tell you that movie stars were treated like Barbie dolls. They were dressed, coiffed, wardrobed, made up, and god knows what else to the whims of the powers that be; their names were changed, their identities practically obliterated, and all in the quest for stardom and glamour—but such was not the case when it came to Marlene Dietrich.

“The perpetuation of Marlene Dietrich—the legend and the artifact—was one of the most disciplined and sustained creative acts of the twentieth century.” —Steven Bach

The authors make it perfectly clear that Ms. Dietrich was in full control when it came to her on and off screen personae. Whether staging a shoot, selecting a photographer, lighting a shoot, wardrobe (wearing her own clothes and jewelry) or posing, the final word came from Fraulein Dietrich.Her mentor, if not image maker, was without a doubt Josef von Sternberg, who was instrumental in creating the Marlene Dietrich that we have all come to recognize as movie star extraordinaire.

The archive provided by the authors and the text that accompanies it makes the reader privy to a fiercely independent and outspoken woman who carved her path in ways that were that hitherto unknown among her peers—especially other females movie stars.

Despite the book’s diminutive size, the photos are larger than life and the context they offer of her life is so much more than just screen idol and Hollywood icon.  There is no extraneous verbiage by the authors, giving the book an easy to read experience that will illuminate and expand one’s knowledge about this incredibly prescient woman who was decades ahead of her time on so many issues.