Mercedes-Benz models as film actors
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Dorothy, Donna, Samantha and Ellen are four genuine film stars with a three-pointed star on their radiator grilles. In Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000, directed by Dominic Sena) Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie are two car thieves in hot pursuit of these four Mercedes-Benz beauties and other cars. In giving individual names to the objects of their desire, the gang of two lend the cars human attributes.
Mercedes-Benz vehicles have even been known to assume the title role in films. At one end of the spectrum, for example, there is the bitter-sweet road movie Mercedes, mon amour (1993, directed by Tunc Okan), which tells the story of a Turkish worker’s journey from Munich to Anatolia in his gold-coloured Mercedes-Benz 350 SE. At the other, there are documentaries such as God Gave Her a Mercedes-Benz (1992, directed by Katia Forbert Peterson). Far from presenting a biography of Janis Joplin, as the title might lead one to believe, this film follows the powerful African women who control Toga’s markets. These dignified women bear the name “Mama Benz”, after the chauffeur-driven limousines they ride in.
Stuttgart character actors
Major and minor stars: Not every Mercedes-Benz that makes it onto the cinema screen gets to play a leading role. For the allocation of principal characters and minor roles in a film works much for cars as it does for actors. Nevertheless, even still shots can give a car the chance to shine, as in Roger Spottiswood’s 1997 film, Tomorrow Never Dies. Here, during a car chase in a Hamburg car park, a three-box body briefly appears in the rear-view mirror of the car driven by James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) – perhaps as a nod to that model’s appearance in the Bond cult classic Goldfinger (1964, directed by Guy Hamilton).
A further parallel between human and automotive actors is the attention they receive from fans. For every age of the silver screen has had its current stars – and its nostalgia-charged heroes. Among the venerable old gentlemen that continue to raise pulses even in the cinema of the twenty-first century are the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 198 series) and Mercedes-Benz 600 (W 100 series). But even the rather gruff-voiced acting of the Unimog family and the mostly downto- earth silent roles played by the W 123 series are still held in public affection long after production of the vehicles themselves has ceased.