“I didn’t feel wanted!” : when Al Pacino recounts his difficult beginnings in Le…

Available for replay on Arte TV, “Al Pacino: The Bronx and the Fury” is an excellent portrait of this legendary actor, illustrated by rare archive images. An actor as brilliant as shunning honors and uncomfortable with success.

"i didn't feel wanted!" : when al pacino recounts his difficult beginnings in le...
Paramount Pictures

Trained by Charles Laughton, one of the greatest theater actors, then at the Actors studio by Lee Strasberg who would become his mentor and even a real surrogate father, Al Pacino is one of the greatest actors in American cinema and cinema. short, having embodied characters who have long since entered the legend of the 7th art.

Trained in the “method” specific to the Actors Studio, Pacino is known for delivering a very intense and physical acting. His approach, which allowed him to slip into the skin of some of the greatest roles in the history of American cinema – led by Michael Corleone of course – made him an ideal that inspired – and still inspires – a whole generation of apprentice actors and directors.

Recognized today for his fabulous gift of making people forget the actor hidden behind a character, he has also sometimes become, through mediocre films and easy if not unfortunate role choices, a bit of a caricature of himself; at least a caricature of the roles that made him famous.

An Ascension of Sounds and Fury

52′ documentary in the form of a portrait dedicated to this Hollywood legend, available in replay on Arte TV, Al Pacino: The Bronx and the Fury comes back a lot and intelligently on the dazzling upward trajectory of the actor, who embodies better than any other the New York of vertigo and fury of the 70s.

Because if we talk a lot and rightly about the love of a Woody Allen or, even more, a Martin Scorsese for the city of New York, to the point of regularly making him a full-fledged character in its works, one associates less the actors who are viscerally attached to it. Pacino is one of them.

A city then in the throes of a terrible drug epidemic, frightening crime, to the point that a survival manual and even distributed to tourists. A city on the verge of bankruptcy too. The money was so lacking in the coffers of the municipality that it could not even pay the garbage collectors to collect the garbage, especially in the districts of the Bronx – where Pacino is a native – and Harlem, which have become open-air ghettos. . The Black Panthers will go so far as to threaten the mayor of the city with death if he does not clean the streets…

This social urgency of a Big Apple in sordid decline is found in Pacino’s first artistic choices, as evidenced by Jerry Schatzberg’s Panic in Needle Park (1971), which reveals him as an incandescent junkie. Serpico, and widespread police corruption. A dog’s afternoon, based on a news item that occurred in Brooklyn in 1972.

The malaise of success

Very classic in its construction, the documentary is regularly illustrated with beautiful archive images and punctuated by memories told in voice-over by Pacino. Like these very moving images, showing the actor with his friend John Cazale, whom he met in 1968 on the stage. Another great actor, with a more withdrawn personality, whom Pacino hails as “a big brother”.

The opportunity also to measure how badly Pacino lived in the limelight, fleeing success and honors. Refusing to go to the Movie Premiere Panic in Needle Parkhe prefers to stay alongside the junkies he met on the set of the film, not managing to get out of a role that propelled him to the front of the stage.

The impression also of feeling illegitimate in the cinema, whereas he is much more at ease in the theater, which retains his preference and remains his great passion. His debut in The Godfatherthe role that will definitely put him in orbit, were very difficult for him.

“I wanted to be replaced; I wondered what I was doing there. I didn’t feel wanted. Acting requires confidence. You have to feel that you are wanted in the role” says Pacino. At the premiere of Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece, he is so nervous and uncomfortable that he stuffs himself with tranquilizers. After A dog’s afternoonexhausted, he loses himself in depression and alcohol, to the point of going to rehab.

If, in the end, we had to formulate a regret concerning Al Pacino: The Bronx and the Fury, this would be its format, far too short to sweep the entire spectrum of the career of such a sacred monster. A career in sawtooth, made of dizzying heights, eclipses and shattering returns, for an actor who has, for a long time, nothing more to prove.

Al Pacino: The Bronx and the Fury, available for replay on Arte TV until April 6.

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