With "Lucy and Desi", Amy Poehler dives into the heart of a marriage

It was hours and hours of stuff. One of our producers was at [Ball’s daughter] Lucie’s house, and she pointed to a box, like, “What’s in...


It was hours and hours of stuff. One of our producers was at [Ball’s daughter] Lucie’s house, and she pointed to a box, like, “What’s in that one?” It was truly a genius moment in the bottle, finding all those audio tapes. When you make a documentary, you realize that you and your editor [Robert Martinez, whose credits include “The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”] are like two people on a life raft. There was so much material, and it was by far the most overwhelming thing. Once we made the decision to hear Lucy and Desi tell us their story [via the recordings], everything changed, because not only did it make them feel alive and human, but we were able to age them over the course of the film. While I firmly believe that most people aren’t reliable storytellers, I think you learn a lot from what people don’t say, and that’s just as important as what they say. I was always very moved by the way they talked about each other.

The film gives you the impression that on the one hand, they maintain this very 1950s version of happily ever after, but off camera, at least later in the marriage, they struggled. It’s sometimes difficult to reconcile that with the Lucy and Ricky we see on television.

Television is an intimate medium that you often watch with your family, and they were the first inventors of the idea of ​​breakup and mending, i.e., maybe Lucy baked too much bread or that Ricky forgot his birthday or whatever, and you think there’s no way they’ll fix it, and they fix it in the end and it’s all good. There is a deep desire, especially in postwar America at the time, to think, “Can things be fixed? Are we okay? Will the family stay together? And what was really exciting to me was that they were going through some very human and complicated things that most people feel with success and marriage. You know, all the things that happen in a human life.

Did you have any discussions with the producers or your editor about their marriage or why their relationship might resonate with modern audiences?

Yes, we really tried to deconstruct the idea of ​​a partnership and ask questions about what makes a successful marriage. What Lucy and Desi do for a living is that they work very hard on themselves and their craft. They create this beautiful music together. And they continue to create separately, respecting each other and finding ways to work together. So there is always this question, what is a successful partnership? Their marriage ends, but they co-parent and find new love. I loved talking to Laura LaPlaca [director of the Carl Reiner Department of Archives and Preservation at the National Comedy Center] because she said America just doesn’t accept their divorce. America was just like, no. But they showed what it was like to get divorced and respect each other. They opened a track. You know, if I had the privilege of talking to any of them, they probably would have lived their human, complicated lives. They weren’t trying to do anything.

Desi passed away in 1986. Their daughter Lucie tells a moving story of getting them together to watch old episodes of “I Love Lucy,” which somehow is kind of happily ever after, but very sweet- bitter. What did this story mean to you, and what do you think it says about their marriage and this notion of happily ever after?

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Newsrust - US Top News: With "Lucy and Desi", Amy Poehler dives into the heart of a marriage
With "Lucy and Desi", Amy Poehler dives into the heart of a marriage
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