There’s no denying that train wrecks make great documentary subjects.
Not that Abraham Lincoln doesn’t, but watching someone come unglued is a whole 'nother sort of compelling. Upsetting, even.
Docs in this genre usually require the subject to have left the building in order to reach a satisfying conclusion. The final word belongs to an assortment of friends, colleagues, admirers, enemies…some of whom may be harboring ulterior motives.
Surely German chanteuse Nico’s appearance factored into Andy Warhol’s decision to elevate her to Factory superstar status. (See his video of her immediately above.) She was a model after all, arresting enough to have appeared as herself in La Dolce Vita. She romanced rock gods, film directors, and movie stars, many of whom have their say in Susanne Ofteringer’s documentary Nico-Icon, viewable in its entirety up top.
It’s a fascinating, cautionary portrait, but as the backseat psychoanalysis mounted, I found myself wanting to hear from the subject more. With apologies to Neil Diamond fans, we decided it was only fitting to show you Nico having her own say.
Maybe she was a nightmare. Former keyboardist, James Young, wrote a book about his time on tour with her. He’s in the documentary, of course. Aspiring icons, you’ve been forewarned:
Forget sticks and stones. It takes a lot more heroin and hard living to kill the looks of anyone with her bone structure.
Did Nico really have such little use for anyone’s approval but her own? The art she made after her iconic work with the Velvet Underground convinces me that her embrace of ugly--what Chelsea Girls director referred to as her “stupid German perversity”--was sincere.
She’s still an enigma trapped in amber. She’ll be your mirror.
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