I’m honestly curious how many of you reading this right now have ever heard the name, Marion Stokes, prior to this article? I’ll be honest I didn’t either before I embarked on this journey, courtesy of Matt Wolf. Before I tell you a bit more about Ms. Stokes, however, humor me: did you ever record television shows or movies onto VHS? Did you watch it repeatedly on repeat? For me, I was 13, when I got my first television in my room. For my sister and I, it was a rite of passage of sorts for us. I remember how much television, I recorded when I discovered the ability to record on VHS. I mostly recorded episodes of The Simpsons and a lot of Mariah Carey videos. First celebrity crush and all.
Now, what if you could record content round the clock for 35 years, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week? That is why Marion Stokes has an incredible story – she did just that. For his latest documentary, Wolf, takes a look at the incredible life, obsession and accomplishments of Marion Stokes. Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project dives deep into the origins of the recording project, Marion’s passions, her life and her relationships. The story, in and of itself, is incredible. When the project began in the late 1970s, Marion encountered several significant historical events. Everything from the Irani Crisis of the early 80s, the impeachment of Clinton in the 90s, Mandela being released from prison, 9/11 and more.
The documentary comes equipped with a lot of that raw footage from Marion’s collection spliced throughout. The film boasts a strong narrative thanks in part to its brutal honesty, vulnerability and incredible heart. Though, the news reel footage from her collection makes the narrative feel in and out at times. There are sequences throughout the film in which the narrative comes to a complete stop simply to show off this collection.
Overall, Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project, is an incredibly engaging documentary from start to finish. The story of Marion Stokes is bizarre, yet brilliant. Absolutely beautiful, brutally honest, and gloriously heartfelt from start to finish. The sheer size of Marion’s collection is astonishing. It’s a shame that Matt Wolf’s film falls shy of that call. With a documentary on VHS recording, it’s bound to feature some of that footage within its film. Though the placement of said footage is a bit jarring. Sometimes the narrative can lose focus a bit for it – sacrificing its story for something flashy. Nonetheless, Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project is an incredible experience.
And more importantly, if you or someone you know is struggling with suicide, addiction, self-harm or depression - please free feel to reach out. Use any our resources, call the suicide lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or text 741-741.
Credits: Recorder :The Marion Stokes Project is property of Zeitgeist Films. We do not own nor claim any rights. This is an official selection of Lost Weekend XII.