‘Blonde’ director shares his real thoughts on Marilyn Monroe

Andrew Dominik has spent more than a decade making a film about Marilyn Monroe. So you might think he would value her more. Apparently not.

In a new interview with the British Film Institute, the director opened up about his background work on the screen adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 novel Blonde. Apparently, a large part of the NC-17 film’s script revolved around him and his feelings?

“I’ve read everything there is to read about Marilyn Monroe,” the New Zealand native told BFI in a video call from his home base in Melbourne, Australia. “I met people who knew her. I did an enormous amount of research. But in the end it’s about the book. And adapting the book is really about adapting the feelings that the book made me feel.”

Those sentiments released on Tuesday appear to be very strong.

“‘Blonde’ is supposed to make you tremble,” Dominik said. “Like an orphaned rhesus monkey in the snow. It is a howl of pain or rage.”

Dominik admitted she skipped some of The Seven Year Itch star’s successes, including starting her own production company given the studio system, coming to terms with the Red Scare witch hunt when she married Arthur Miller in the late 1950s and promoting the career of singer Ella Fitzgerald when a nightclub was afraid to book a “real jazz” singer.

“The stuff isn’t really what the film is about. It’s about a person who’s going to kill himself,” he said. “So it’s trying to look at the reasons why they did that. It’s not about her lasting legacy. I mean, she’s not even overly concerned about any of those things.”

In his fictional story, Dominik said he chose to focus more on how Monroe has everything — on the surface — and still isn’t happy.

“If you look at Marilyn Monroe, she has everything that society makes us want to desire. she is famous She is beautiful. she is rich If you look at the Instagram version of her life, she has it all. And she killed herself,” he says.

(In 1982, prosecutors opening an investigation into Monroe’s death said that Monroe’s death from a barbiturate overdose could have been either accidental or premeditated, contradicting the “probable suicide” statement noted on her 1962 death certificate added nuance.)

“Well, for me that’s the most important thing. It’s not the rest. It’s not the moments of strength. OK, she wrested control from the men in the studio because women are just as powerful as men. But that’s really it, looking at it through a lens that’s not that interesting to me. I’m more interested in how she feels, I’m more interested in how her emotional life has been.”

In his review of Blonde, Justin Chang of the Times noted how impacted star Ana de Armas was by Dominik’s approach.

“Brightly likable scene after scene, she delivers a powerful, intensely felt performance in a film that doesn’t deserve it, that insists on squeezing her sometimes uncanny channeling of Monroe’s image into the dumbest possible dramatic form,” Chang wrote. He called Dominik’s film “dazzling, depressing and deadly uninteresting”.

And because of that screaming monkey vibe? It’s in there.

“Even the floating pleasure of that ‘some like it hot’ scene can’t last,” Chang wrote. “Soon this Marilyn won’t be singing anymore; she screams and lashes out, shutting down production. Dominik doesn’t do much by halves, including diva crack-ups, and it’s disheartening to realize that This So he got involved with this particular Hollywood recreation.”

On the other hand, maybe we shouldn’t fret too much about the film.

“Does anyone really care?” Dominik said as the BFI play ended. “People who make films tend to think that they are incredibly important. But it’s just a movie about Marilyn Monroe. And there will be many more films about Marilyn Monroe.”

Not that in his opinion anybody actually watches any of these movies that have been made through monroe

“She’s someone who’s become this big cultural thing in a whole bunch of movies that nobody watches, right? Does anyone watch Marilyn Monroe movies?” the director said to writer Christine Newland in an outtake posted on Twitter.

Newland explained to him that she and her friends enjoy watching “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” partly because of his worldview and because it’s a glamorous fantasy.

“What, because they’re well dressed?” Dominik said. “They are well-dressed whores. I do not know.”

“Blonde” has been in select theaters since September 16 and begins streaming on Netflix on Wednesday.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-09-27/marilyn-monroe-blonde-director-andrew-dominik ‘Blonde’ director shares his real thoughts on Marilyn Monroe

Sarah Ridley

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