Imelda Marcos is a supremely delusional woman. Imelda (website), a new documentary covers the life of the controversial first lady of the Phillipines from her childhood in a rural province to ascending with her husband to President of the Phillines, to his installation as dictator, they’re eventual ouster by Corazon Aquino and exile – and eventual return to her homeland.
She is a remarkable charismatic woman on screen, the former Miss Phillipines still has a fantastic singing voice and a dear love of beauty and luxury. Her self-told tales of her struggles as a rich woman are counterpointed by journalists and revolutionaries who were tortured in detention camps by her husband’s forces. She contends that her job was to provide culture and beauty to the poor of the country – and to this end she built massive cultural centers. Though most of them seemed to be in Manila, inaccessible to the poor she desperately wanted to ennoble with the arts. The most revealing discussion was a senator saying that when Mrs. Marcos looked beautiful and rich, the poor felt good. Kinda reminds me of the stories of Eva Peron being so careful to present a worshipful image to her underlings – while bilking the state treasury of milllions of dollars. That mindset allows one to remain beautiful and wrapped in luxury and still feel you are helping the poor by example, rather than by good works.
The best story is how she re-tells the incident where a man with a knife attacked her at a political rally – and her first thought is how unfortunate that the knife was so ugly and poorly made. That she’s more worthy of being attacked with a more ornate, decorative knife.
Another great giggle is the tour at the museum where her famed shoe collection is housed. The guide shows off her favorite pairs of Imelda’s collection – and then intimates that she tries them on and walks around when nobody is looking.
A third story is the American juror that helped acquit her in U. S. federal court of racketeering charges – she sent him an autographed portrait of herself and had entertained him at parties as gratitude for not sending her to jail.
Musical writers – take note – this is great source material. Spinning a dual-story of Imelda and Corazon would be a fantastic tale.
Anyway – great documentary on a larger than life woman – and a portrait of a country occupied by the Spanish, the Americans and the Japanese and all the culture schizophrenia that does to island peoples.