A touching film on the enduring love story between legendary Canadian folk singer Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse, Marianne Ihlen was screened at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival on Friday.
“Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love,” by Nick Broomfield begins on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960, where Cohen, then a struggling and unknown fiction writer, and Ihlen, a single mother with a young son, became part of a community of ex-pat artists, writers, and musicians.
The never-before-seen footage shot by Broomfield and legendary documentarian D.A. Pennebaker give a glimpse of an idyllic 1960s bohemia.
It was a relationship that cast a long shadow in both their lives, as well as in popular culture (notably via his song “So Long, Marianne”). Ihlen and Cohen remained in sporadic, fond communication over ensuing decades, dying just three months apart in 2016.
Cohen fell in love with Hydra where he bought a house. He found the island and its people mysterious and unusual. He later said that it was the smartest decision he ever made. “The years are flying past and we all waste so much time wondering if we dare to do this or that, the thing is to leap, to try, to take a chance.”