With ‘Lucy and Desi,’ Amy Poehler Gets to the Heart of a Marriage


It was hours and hours of stuff. One in every of our producers was at [Ball’s daughter] Lucie’s home, and he or she pointed to a field, like, “What’s in that one?” It was very a lot a genie-in-the-bottle second, discovering all these audiotapes. Once you’re doing a documentary, you understand that you simply and your editor [Robert Martinez, whose credits include “The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”] are like two individuals on a life raft. There was a lot materials, and that was by far essentially the most overwhelming factor. As soon as we made the choice to listen to Lucy and Desi inform us their story [via the recordings], all the things modified, as a result of not solely did it make them really feel alive and human, however we have been capable of age them because the movie went on. Despite the fact that I strongly consider that most individuals are unreliable narrators, I believe you be taught quite a bit from what individuals don’t say, and it’s simply as vital as what they do say. I used to be at all times very moved by how they spoke about one another.

The movie provides you the sense that on one hand, they’re upholding this very Nineteen Fifties model of fortunately ever after, however that off digital camera, no less than later within the marriage, they struggled. It’s generally laborious to reconcile that with the Lucy and Ricky we see on tv.

Tv is an intimate medium that you simply typically watch with your loved ones, they usually have been the early inventors of the thought of rupture and restore, which is, possibly Lucy baked an excessive amount of bread or Ricky forgot her birthday or no matter it’s, and also you suppose there’s no means they’re going to repair it, they usually repair it on the finish and all the things’s advantageous. There’s a deep longing, particularly in postwar America on the time, of pondering: “Can issues be fastened? Are we going to be OK? Is the household going to remain collectively?” And what was actually thrilling to me is that they have been experiencing very human, sophisticated issues that most individuals really feel with success and marriage. , all of the issues that occur in a human life.

Did you may have discussions with the producers or your editor about their marriage or about why their relationship would possibly resonate with trendy audiences?

Yeah, we actually tried to deconstruct the thought of a partnership and ask questions on what makes a profitable marriage. What Lucy and Desi do of their lives is that they work very laborious on themselves and their craft. They create this stunning music collectively. And so they go on to proceed to create individually, respecting one another and discovering methods to work collectively. So there’s at all times that query of, what’s a profitable partnership? Their marriage ends, however they co-parent and discover new love. I cherished speaking to Laura LaPlaca [director of the Carl Reiner Department of Archives and Preservation at the National Comedy Center] as a result of she stated that America simply didn’t settle for their divorce. America was similar to, nope. However they confirmed what it was wish to get divorced and present respect for one another. They have been blazing a path. , if I had had the privilege to talk to both of them, they in all probability would have simply been residing their human, sophisticated lives. They weren’t attempting to do any of that.

Desi handed away in 1986. Their daughter Lucie tells a transferring story about bringing them collectively to look at outdated episodes of “I Love Lucy,” which, in a means, is a little bit little bit of a fortunately ever after, however very bittersweet. What did that story imply for you, and what do you suppose it says about their marriage and that notion of fortunately ever after?

Lucy stated that after they divorced, they turned quite a bit kinder to one another. As a tradition, we’re obsessive about “until loss of life do you half.” However don’t you need the aim to be that in your loss of life mattress, you possibly can inform individuals you’re keen on them? Is the aim to have an sad, decades-long marriage, or is the aim to return collectively in partnership to create fascinating stuff collectively and to remain full of affection and respect for one another? Lucy and Desi labored actually laborious, and when given the chance, they held palms they usually jumped. It simply appears like they have been astronauts.


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