She was immortalized in a Leonard Cohen song and their lasting love affair would last a lifetime. Now a heartbreaking documentary explores the complex and unconventional relationship between the charismatic Canadian singer-songwriter and his mysterious Norwegian muse, Marianne Ihlen.
Cohen fans will be thrilled by the moving, funny and tenderly told story, which uses rare images, new interviews, cleverly composed stills and Cohen & # 39; s sonorous voice to unleash the couple's free romance and devastating legacy. explore.
Leonard Cohen with Marianne Ihlen in the sixties. Cohen fans will fall under the spell of the tenderly told story, which explores the free-spirited romance of the couple
Ihlen met Cohen, then a young, struggling poet, when he arrived on the Greek island of Hydra in April 1960 and fell for the bohemian lifestyle that it offered. Hydra had a hedonistic reputation and was visited by artists and society figures, including Jackie Kennedy and Princess Margaret. There was no shortage of alcohol or drugs, with LSD and amphetamines being found to be particularly popular. In September he bought a small house in the hills above the small harbor with the proceeds of a small estate.
& # 39; At that time I was able to live on Hydra for $ 1,100 a year and live a good life & # 39 ;, Cohen told me at his home in Los Angeles in 1991. & # 39; So I would return to Canada and a thousand earn dollars from doing a job or another and then go back to Hydra and write and swim and sail. I bought the house there for $ 1,500. I still have it. & # 39;
Ihlen had been on the island for two years when Cohen appeared, silhouetted by sunlight in a shop door. & # 39; Oh, he was beautiful! & # 39; She cried later.
He wrote a friend who feverishly & # 39; this Scandinavian goddess & # 39; perfectly described & # 39; perfect & # 39 ;.
But Ihlen was married to the Norwegian novelist Axel Jensen and they had a baby together. The marriage failed however and Jensen had met another woman.
Cohen offered to drive Ihlen 2000 miles to Oslo, where she completed her divorce.
Back on Hydra, the lovers stroll through the winding streets and carry cool white linen. Cohen remembered that they were covered with some sort of gold dust – everything we did was informed by this beautiful meaning.
Marianne Ihlen (left) holds her son, Axel Jensen Jr on her lap during a conversation with Leonard Cohen and married the Australian authors George Johnston and Charmian Clift
Leonard Cohen in the light of his fame. & # 39; We have bathed, we have played, we have drunk, we have discussed it & # 39 ;, Marianne recalled. & # 39; There was writing and making love & # 39;
Now, 25 and in love, Ihlen sent her son back to Norway to live with his grandmother and go home with Cohen. For six years they lived a fairy-tale existence. Cohen wrote relentlessly, often nourished by & # 39; uppers & # 39 ;, while Marianne was floating around, preparing and taking care of their marijuana plants.
Oh, he was beautiful! & # 39; He panted. He wrote to a friend that she & # 39; was this perfect goddess
The back-sleeve photo on his second album, Songs From A Room, captures the simplicity of their lives: Ihlen sits at a desk in a frugal bedroom that is dressed only in a towel. & # 39; We showered, we played, we drank, we discussed, & # 39; she remembered. & # 39; There was writing and making love. & # 39;
The seductive way of Cohen with words now worked for him on the stage of the world. His first album, Songs Of Leonard Cohen, released in 1967, was a slow-burning success and his professional engagements left him out of Hydra. His bohemian dream ended. & # 39; It somehow collapsed, & # 39; Cohen thought. & # 39; Weightless, as if axes fall. There was no confrontation, no discussion. & # 39;
Cohen was already a woman's addict and his newly found status only increased his legendary appetite. His many conquests would include Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell and actress Rebecca de Mornay. Eventually they all discovered & # 39; he could not give himself to them because he could not give himself & # 39 ;, as a friend said.
Cohen on stage in 2013. When he entered his 70s, Cohen's career enjoyed a huge, unexpected revival, partly because he had written the universal hit Hallelujah
Until the last man of a lady, he remained single. I once asked why he was never married. & # 39; Too scared, & # 39; he muttered. But Ihlen, you felt, was never far from his mind.
During their years of each other, precious letters and banknotes were exchanged by the lovers. In his song I Can not Forget croonde Cohen another cryptic message: & # 39; I have loved you all my life / and so I want to end it & # 39 ;.
When he started in the 70s, Cohen's career enjoyed a huge, unexpected revival, partly because he had written the universal hit Halleluja. He embarked on a two-year world tour in 2009, at the age of 74, and immediately reached out to Ihlen, as if he wanted her to share his happiness after the fall. After decades apart, during which time Cohen had moved to Los Angeles and had two children with artist Suzanne Elrod and Ihlen back to Norway and married an engineer, the singer invited his best old flame to a concert in Oslo. From her front row seat, she sang along to So Long, Marianne. In the documentary we accompany her on the show, waving and crying.
At 81 Ihlen was diagnosed with leukemia. When she heard the news, Cohen emailed her to the hospital: “Dear Marianne, I am a little behind you, close enough to grab your hand. This old body has given up, just like yours, and the evacuation message is now on its way every day. I have never forgotten your love and beauty. But you know that. I don't have to say anymore. Safe travels old friend. See you on the road. Love and gratitude. Leonard. "
Those near Ihlen in her final days say she read the message repeatedly before she died in July 2016. Cohen died peacefully, just four months later.
& # 39; Marianne & Leonard: Words Of Love & # 39; is in the cinemas on July 26
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