The ghostly voice of Leonard Cohen reflects on love in the trailer for Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, a new documentary about the singer-songwriter’s decades-long relationship with muse Marianne Ihlen, who inspired Cohen classics like “So Long, Marianne.” “When trying to learn some things about love,” the late Cohen intones, “when your woman becomes her own content, and you become her content, that’s love.”
The poetic clip opens with a news report of Ihlen’s death in July 2016, followed by narration from part of a Cohen “love letter”: “Dearest Marianne, I’m just a little behind you — close enough to take your hand.” (Cohen died less than four months after Ihlen, on November 7th of that year.)
The trailer touches on Cohen and Ihlen meeting each other in 1960 on the Greek island of Hydra, while the future folk icon was still a struggling writer. The pair lived a “dream life” in a creative, bohemian community — before Cohen ascended to late Sixties stardom as a songwriter in the U.S. From there, as the preview shows, their relationship grew more complicated: “He could make women feel good about themselves, but he couldn’t give himself to them,” an interviewee notes. “Because he couldn’t give himself away.”
Nick Broomfield (Whitney: Can I Be Me, Kurt & Courtney) directed Words of Love, which hits theaters July 5th. The film, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, utilizes previously unseen footage from both Broomfield and documentarian D.A. Pennebaker.