Marilyn Monroe “was never a victim, honey,” according to her friend Amy Greene. “Never in a million years.” You wouldn’t know by watching Blonde, the new Netflix giant that tracks the life of the starlet. Based on Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 novel of the same name, each of the film’s 166 minutes is more depressing than the last, as it describes Monroe as a drunken, drunken toy for a conveyor belt of men all too willing to abuse her.
Her career is barely a backdrop for the doomed relationships she jumps from – some fictional, some real – including a couple with Charlie Chaplin Jr, her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, and a date with President John F Kennedy. . Most call her “dad”; every mention of her remembers, to prevent the viewer from forgetting for five seconds, her father figure whose abandonment has driven the man’s longing for her throughout her life.
The haunting vision painted by director Andrew Dominik contrasts with the Monroe that many who knew her describe; a woman who went from foster care to grossing $ 200 million (equivalent to $ 2 billion today) at the box office over two decades and founded her own production company (responsible for 1957 The Prince and the Dancer, with Laurence Olivier). For Greene, whom the actress moved in with after breaking up her marriage to DiMaggio in 1954, Monroe was – as she called her Vanity Fair – “a vital young woman who loved life, loved parties and had fun. “.
Earlier this year, a CNN docuseries rephrased the Some Like It Hot and Men Prefer Blondes star as a skilled cameraman, with her executive producer, Sam Starbuck, describing her as “much more interesting, intelligent and fun than I ever could actually have imagined. She was a total power mediator and a pioneer.
There is a glimmer of it in Blonde, where we see Monroe, played by the Cuban actress, who chooses her stage name. Greeting Norma Jeane Mortenson – who grew up in the shadow of her mother’s psychiatric problems – and rephrasing herself as Marilyn Monroe was no accident. “I wanted my mother’s maiden name [Monroe] because I felt that that was rightly my name, “he later explained.” And real things rarely come into circulation. “
That edict seems prescient given the Netflix movie. Oates’ book, which was later turned into a miniseries, tried to blur the lines between fame and fiction, but there is no such warning in front of Blonde’s film that it appears to present itself as truth. As one would expect The Crown to faithfully describe real life behind closed doors, Blonde is a window into a world that only half existed; one who criticizes Monroe’s sexualization and poor treatment while doing exactly the same thing.
De Armas is often naked, or referred to as “flesh”; there are shots with a privileged vantage point through his legs, or face down on top of the presidential genitals (the film is rated NC-17, the US equivalent of an 18, the highest level). The blonde staggers from filthy to downright grotesque – particularly the swirling CGI fetuses to represent Monroe’s miscarriages – despite Dominik’s previous assessment that his film was “one of the ten best films ever made”. The other nine on his list can’t bear to think about it.
De Armas’ trembling and flirtatious Monroe does not portray an expert woman in the movie camera; one who knew the right PR, angles and men would set her on the career trajectory she craved. This began when Monroe – then 19-year-old housewife Norma Jeane Dogherty – was working in a California ammunition factory during World War II and was spotted by a commissioned photographer. She started modeling for snapper David Conover and her friends with him, signing up with a modeling agency the following year.
This quickly ended her first marriage – Marine husband, James, did not want a wife with a career – with her pinup shoots ultimately leading to contracts with Columbia Pictures and 20th Century Fox, abandonment. of her brown hair and name. “I can be smart when it matters,” says Monroe’s Lorelei Lee in Men Prefer Blondes, echoing the actress herself. “But most men don’t like it.”
This seemed to be the case with Harry Cohn – Columbia Pictures’ chief womanizer and once the most powerful man in Hollywood. While Monroe was under contract there, he invited her to her yacht, to which she replied, “Will your wife join us?” Her contract was not renewed.
However, there were many other bigwigs with whom Monroe mixed the personal and the professional; her “intimate relationship” with executive Johnny Schenk was to thank for the deal with Columbia, and Johnny Hyde, three decades her senior, was both her agent and her lover. Monroe’s seven-year contract with Twentieth Century Fox was said to have been signed by Hyde himself.
As Mira Sorvino, who played Monroe in 1996’s Norma Jean and Marilyn once said: “I think Marilyn accepted that she had to hang out with people to get what she wanted. And I don’t think she should ever have chosen that. But at least there was a decision on her part. “
When the lines were crossed, Monroe spoke. As her star was growing up, she co-authored a 1952 MeToo-style essay titled Wolves I Knew, Convicting Hollywood’s Sofa Raiders. One of these wolves “should have been ashamed of himself, because he was trying to take advantage of a simple child”, reflected on an audition in which all the poses “had to be reclined, even if the words I was reading didn’t seem to call him” .
After discovering that Frank Sinatra had to be paid three times his share for the girl in the pink tights, Monroe rushed off the set and refused to return. (After scribbling the word “TRASH” on the script and throwing it in the trash can.) She promptly donned a dark wig and goggles and flew to New York under the name Zelda Zonk, staying there until Twentieth Century Fox he didn’t agree to give his more money and better roles.
After a year, she was cast in The Seven Year Itch with a salary of $ 100,000, gained full script and director approval, and became the first actress since Mary Pickford to start her own production company. “Actress Wins All Claims,” reads a headline the following day, with the news continuing: “Marilyn Monroe, a five-foot-tall blonde weighing 118 pounds seductively distributed, brought the Twentieth Century Fox on its knees. ”Sinatra’s film was never made.
“He knew what he had to do: shake his ass,” Greene said. “But he understood what he was doing when he did it.”
Politics also did not escape her: she was vehemently opposed to nuclear weapons and converted to Judaism for Miller, her third husband, who was being sued for her previous ties to the Communist Party. Of these things, she Blonde makes no mention of her, favoring shots of her White House dwellers and passed out on airplanes instead.
Monroe’s death from an overdose at 36, like all those lost as a young, blonde and beautiful girl, means she is forever consigned to myth. It remains questionable whether the feminist heroine or the doomed femme fatale was closer to her target, or how many times she would veer between the two in the years that never followed. As well as something else: the purpose of films like Dominik’s serves. If Hollywood was guilty of abusing Monroe then, what excuse is there now?