Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Blonde.
The superfluous biopic Blond from the director Andrew Dominic captured audiences in a frenzy of artistic appreciation and moral objections. With Ana de Armas how Marilyn Monroethe film adapts the novel by Joyce Carol Oates. It is a visually stunning fictional chronicle of Monroe’s career and personal life, with a special focus on her romantic relationships and her decline into utter estrangement. What the film clearly lacks are Monroe’s myriad accomplishments, as well as her wit, cleverness, and dedication to her craft. Why leave out such details that add layers of depth to a protagonist?
Dominik has made it clear that he is not interested in that angle, but in creating a film that characterizes her as a symbol of our collective memory, rather than leaving her enduring legacy to film. While this helps to understand why this film is so graphic and underscores its brilliant use of colour, recreations and playful aspect ratios, it comes at a high price. The portrait of Norma Jeane Baker in which Dominik paints Blond is so narrowly focused that it ultimately lacks subtlety and balance, creating a dense and desensitizing profile of the character he conjured up.
A hard fought career
If anything, this film might inspire some viewers to search for the shreds of truth that scatter the plot Blond, and in doing so, they may find that their careers are much more a product of their dedication and hard work than we lead them to believe. Aside from starting her own production company or fighting communist witch hunts and segregation, Monroe has been reported to have been incredibly accomplished from the start of her career. You could never tell Blond‘s portrayal is riddled with rape and agony, but Monroe owed much of her early success to her own tenacity. For the purpose of Blond‘s “point of view,” that proud trait, was removed to further advance an already cemented narrative that Monroe was fragile and naïve.
filmmakers Karen McGann (Framed: Marilyn Monroe) states in an interview about her documentary series that Marilyn has become a character in a story told by other people and the narrative that she is a victim is just more convenient. Blond serves the purpose of “satisfying a cultural need” so that this fictional character is forever frozen in the story, which is why all information that does not fit this narrative is excluded. Monroe was notorious for her control over her own public image. The scene in the film where her nude photos are discovered is a perfect example of only half the story being told to encourage a biased portrayal. We see her then-husband, “Ex-Sportsman” (Bobby Cannavale how Joe DiMaggio), reacts violently, which is the terrifying truth of their relationship. But we don’t see how Marilyn was advised by her studio to reject these photos. Instead, she had the autonomy to schedule her own interview and target the public in a way that would show them in their best light. Again, this begs the question as to why Dominik would only include features in his film that portray Monroe as a weak victim when in reality she was a change maker in her industry.
These decisions, as McGann says, are practically, but they are also incredibly harmful. Sweeping her audacity under the rug in favor of this manipulated character robs her of her hard-earned legacy and undermines her power and contributions to Hollywood. To suggest that the film industry chewed them up and spat them out is clearly wrong, and yet that is the impression we are given.
A feminist perspective?
After the floodgates opened to negative reviews, author Oates took to Twitter and claimed Dominik had sincerely told a story about sexual heist in a post-#MeToo era. However, the aftermath of #MeToo has allowed us to re-contextualize old information with new perspectives rather than bolstering existing assumptions. This important distinction sets the film apart from other, more perspicacious reappraisals of historical women’s trauma, even though it is a fictional story. The way Monroe’s pain is displayed is widely seen as exploitative, while others see his cheekiness as empathetic.
Regarding her difficulties surrounding pregnancy in particular, many filmmakers and journalists have addressed the issue and how her ongoing struggle has impacted her mental health, on-set collaboration and reputation. An example can be found in the Netflix documentation, The Marilyn Monroe Mystery: The Unheard Tapes. One of those interviewed is a friend and hairstylist, Sydney Guilaroff, who has known Marilyn throughout her career. When asked about her “problems with childbirth,” he replies, “I can’t say anything, and I know everything… It makes me unhappy to talk about it.” That person will be reported Is correct Empathy. Those who actually respected and cared for Monroe had the decency not to rehash information that was traumatic and deeply personal just to entertain others. Stories dealing with this topic are important, but it seems Dominik was concerned that his salaciousness would add clout to the film because he’s dealing with a real woman’s legacy. Through his interpretation of these events, it seems as if he is treating Monroe as a vessel in which to express and project his own ideas onto her, doing her memory a disservice.
A Hollywood obsession with a one-dimensional character
Blond was lauded for his ability to “challenge audiences for their participation in a Hollywood obsession” that molded Monroe into a one-dimensional blonde flirt, and this film successfully deconstructs the differences between her public and private selves. However, it becomes incredibly hypocritical in its attempt to do so. Just as Dominik criticizes the audience for demanding only one side of Monroe, he succumbs to the same beliefs, willfully ignoring the many aspects of their journey that weren’t about being betrayed and controlled by men. You can see what an intellectual thinker she is when she auditions for the role of Nell and points to a Dostoyevsky novel, to which the men in the room reply, “Oh, you’ve read Dostoyevsky, haven’t you, honey? Good.”
But it’s a trend within the film that her intellectual thinking is only revealed in conversations with men when she’s trying to impress them, again notable when she talks about Magda with “The Playwright” (Adrian Brody how Arthur Mueller). Dominik not only refuses to remember her as the intelligent student she was, but portrays her as a victim of her fame, or even more insultingly, a victim of her own self-destruction rather than upholding those institutions responsible for the way she was treated.
Yes, he details how men in positions of power have abused and assaulted her, but there is no remorseful tone in the subtext of this film. There is no recognition that these crimes against women were not committed by nameless ghosts of the past and that the effects of these traumas continue to weigh heavily on women in the industry today. In Andrew Dominik’s attempt at making a feminist film, he contributed to the cliche of infantilizing female protagonists who should be revered and seen as powerful. By reducing a person’s memory to a lifetime of abuse and suffering, he helped strip Monroe of her personality, of everything that made her so special. The scene where she first reads her lines for “Mr. Z” can be copied and pasted over the experiences of hundreds of girls, and yet in this film Monroe doesn’t get the opportunity to reveal her amazing qualities in a way that gives her character agency in her own story. She gets thrown around like a rag doll. In fact, the film illustrates such relentless torture that by the end of its three-hour run, the unaltered depiction of violence becomes repetitive and desensitizing. Just as audiences in Hollywood’s golden age were obsessed with Marilyn as a stunning starlet, Dominik is obsessed with her victimhood. And like the paparazzi he demonizes in the film, he benefits from a sensationalist portrayal of their grief.
Blond is too committed to his slim incarnation of Marilyn Monroe. The way she is written as the main character silences Marilyn’s voice to remain true to a fictionalized version of her. In doing so, she is stripped of her hard-earned legacy, her significant contributions to the industry, and her dignity. As the generations pass, her lasting memory becomes more and more distorted with each unconsidered interpretation of Monroe. The film’s visual storytelling “refers to a collective memory,” but it is a sad statement that, according to the film, our collective memory does not meet her with gratitude and goodwill, but with pity and disappointment.
Had Dominik set out to interpret the novel with an intense focus on historical imagery, he could still have achieved that goal without putting her trauma over her triumph.
https://collider.com/blonde-skims-over-marilyn-monroe-successes/ Blonde Doesn’t Do Us Any Favors by Skimming Over Marilyn Monroe’s Successes