Most people outside the Philippines know that Imelda Marcos garnered thousands of pairs of shoes while her and her husband Ferdinand ruled the Philippines. They don't know much else about her, and that's where the new documentary Imelda comes in. This is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at a woman completely in love with herself. Marcos was a major part of the documentary initially, sitting down for extended interviews and the like, but eventually sued (unsuccessfully) to stop its release overseas. After watching Imelda, it's easy to see why. Marcos comes across as deluded and out-of-touch with her country, and reality in general. It helps that that director Ramona S. Diaz (Spirits Rising) took pains to interview supporters and detractors of Marcos and her husband. From all points of view, it's still clear that Marcos is not all right in the head.

Imelda track's Marcos' rise from beauty queen to governor of Manila, to a disgraced Filipino exile in Hawaii, and back again. Her rise to power came with the rise of her husband, Ferdinand Marcos. The two ruled the Philippines with an iron hand, allegedly stifling opposition and embezzling millions of dollars in the process. The United States overlooked many of the sins of the Marcos regime due to the strategic importance of US bases in the Philippines in relation to the Cold War. One of Marcos' goals as First Lady was to show that her country was not as backward as people thought. She traveled the globe to meet world leaders, always dressed immaculately, and this is where things get weird. After listening to her speak, it is clear that she is thoughtful, well spoken, and intelligent, but then again, some of her logical conclusions are truly bizarre.

Marcos' reason for her opulent style was to show her country that somebody could succeed. She wanted to be a role model for everybody less well off then her and her husband. Who cares that she spent enormous amounts of money on extravagant clothes while many citizens had little to nothing. Her actions come across as narcissistic. She championed many projects she felt would catapult the Philippines into modernity, like a film complex, state of the art hospitals, and the like. However, many citizens cared little for these pet projects or could not afford them. Was she truly so dense as not to realize this? She was probably more enamored with her vanity. As time grew on, it was like she believed all she said about herself, and elevated herself to something of a national idol. The ironic thing is, that despite everything that happened, she was still adored by a huge portion of the population.

Her love of herself is extremely clear, and this is where she comes across as loony. At one point she reads some excerpts from a book of hers, and describes her philosophy of the world. This is something that needs to be heard to be believed. The way that she ties together unrelated beliefs is truly bizarre, humorous, and impressive at the same time. As many people point out, Marcos truly likes to talk. Or, "ramble" is probably more appropriate. It's a good thing that Diaz balances Marcos' strange view with a multitude of views. Her supporters, including some of her family, label her as misunderstood. Many of her detractors seem to view her with a mixture of hatred and amusement. Either way, in the end, it is Marcos' own words that are the most damning against her.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 43 minutes, English and some Tagalog with English subtitles, Not Rated but probably a PG-13 or possibly PG.

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