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The Original Mermaid (2002)

  Directed by: Ana Kokkinos
Written by: Ana Kokkinos
Starring: Annette Kellerman
Links: The Original Mermaid on the IMDb
Genre: Documentary
Awards: AFI Awards: Best Documentary 2003 (nominee)

This movie gets: 4.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Swim, Annette, Swim!" - a review by pearly

The Original Mermaid is the story of Annette Kellerman, an Australian born in 1887 who overcame childhood polio which caused weakness in her legs, to become a champion swimmer - including being the first woman to swim the English channel. She is like the female real life equivalent of Forrest Gump (1994).

But Annette is not satisfied just being a swimmer, and her life takes many twists and turns as she attempts to become an actress, by way of stage shows involving her doing water ballet whilst immersed in a huge glass tank on stage. Eventually she starts starring in movies, mostly movies where she spends 90% of the time in the water; so she stars as mermaids and the like.

A movie was made about her: Million Dollar Mermaid (1952), starring Esther Williams, and now this documentary gives a more personal and overall perspective of her life. It is an interesting glimpse into the sorts of things that caused scandals and what was considered popular in the early 1900s. I found it particularly interesting to find out that some of the movies that Kellerman made have since been lost - to think that a movie which was at the top of the box office is now gone forever illustrates how far we have come with technology, where now even more obscure movies are distributed to people on DVD.

Come to think of it, people in the early 1900s had their heads screwed on right. I mean, who wouldn't want to while away the hours watching someone cavorting about onstage in a tank, or better still, the guys who did a similar thing, but just did everyday stuff under the water, like riding a bike or smoking a cigarette (?!). It's gotta be better than the wrestling.

pearly gives this movie 4 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 2 Oct 2003

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