Living precariously through My Week With Marilyn

For my christmas stocking, my first I would add, a very kind and dear friend has given me a bunch of my favorite reading materials which I think rather dull for most people about economics, politics etc. And in that stocking was a book called “My week with Marilyn” by Colin Clark, which I know is now a featured film. As my reaction to the christmas stocking on that early christmas morning, a bubbling sense of excitement like a kid as well as a sense of “je ne sais quoi”, caught at a loss of what to do. Perhaps that is how Colin felt at the time of the book.

“My week with Marilyn” is a compilation of diary entries by Collin Clark when he was working on set as 3rd assistant director for the movie “The Prince and The Showgirl”, starring Laurence Oliver and Marilyn Monroe. It was the first time the author worked on the film and he wrote it as an observer of the process of film making and especially, film making with Marilyn Monroe. Then a 23 year old youngster at the start of his career in the 1950s in England, his observation of the clash of the old vs new form of acting, english film making vs hollywood stars, a well established actor (Oliver) trying to be a star and a star (Marilyn) trying to be an actor are at times astute, at times innocent.

I cannot explain it. During the week I was reading the book, I had also found myself behaving like Marilyn, wanting to be girlie and taken care of but also taken seriously but mostly coaxing to be loved. Maybe that’s her unique quality, to be so talented and strong yet appearing to be so silly and blond. I wonder if any woman in the world will ever get away with it as Marilyn had and I eagerly await the release of the movie before I pass judgement on Michelle Williams’ portrayal of the infamous star. Throughout the book, the author has endless pity for her and also appreciation of her talent.

In today’s psychoanalysis, we can probably diagnosed this as abandonment issues. In a rare episode where Marilyn opened up to Collin about her childhood, was the answer we can gather to her behavior. A classic case of struggling between what one wants and others wants and the challenge to know the difference. And possible a family history of mental illness. Perhaps that is why I relate to her and suddenly find myself adopting her methods. Maybe. And maybe tragedy is what makes characters great. Maybe.

If you had watched the movie “The Prince and The Showgirl”, you will agree that Marilyn is so much more natural than Laurence Oliver. The weird combination of the 2 actors made the movie funny at best and laughable at worst. As I read the book, I also remembered the scenes in the movie that matched the chapters. Marilyn was indeed a force of nature with her looks, her iconic breathless voice and the simpleness of a little girl on and off screen.

The honesty of the author and the courage to take it all in and be himself is refreshing. Reading the diary entry of a person is a very funny experience. I’m not sure many people can crystalised thoughts as such and not succumb to rumblings. Yet the author managed to provide information at the same time as his opinion in a world of craziness.

It’s not a particularly notable book or a particularly interesting book. But somehow, it’s an easy read and it draws you in. And in a weird way, the characters were well developed. I think that was the surprise when I finished reading the book. Indeed, I had thought it a simple and mindless read just like Marilyn seems to be as a actress. But atlas, it does have that “je ne sais pas quoi”. I guess, that is her charm and her draw.

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