The new Netflix film “Blonde” was released on September 28th, and has since received an outraged response for the portrayal of Marilyn Monroe.
Whether or not you are a fan of Marilyn Monroe, to watch this movie as a woman is extremely difficult from the exploitive nature of the film. From the incredibly disturbing sexual assault scenes, the anti Pro Choice themes, and the depressing focus of the life of Monroe, these issues become enlarged but also make sense when learned the director of this movie is a man. Previous films depicting Marilyn Monroe such as “Marilyn and Me” and “A Week with Marilyn” were also directed by men and portray her from the male gaze.
The film stars actress Ana de Armas, a Cuban and Spanish actress known for her roles in Knives Out (2019), Blade Runner 2049 (2017), and No Time to Die (2021).
“Blonde” specifically has been hyped up for about a year and a half prior to its release. Excitement came when comparison of Ana de Armas and make up and costume looked almost perfect to the original photos of Marilyn. Anticipation rose again from the public when Blonde received a fourteen minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival.
One thing the film managed to successfully do was the attention to detail of makeup, costume and props. Ana de Armas explains the long hours sitting in the makeup chair to try to best reflect the iconic face of Marilyn Monroe. Once the appearance was set, Armas then needed to practice Monroe’s voice, facial movements, dance choreography, and overall presence. This however is not the issue with the movie. While nobody could every exactly portray the icon that is Marilyn Monroe, Ana de Armas did a pretty good job. The script, direction, and obscene overall depiction of a real person is the issue of this film.
Within the first fifteen minutes of the movie, Marilyn is depicted being sexually assaulted by an agent and someone she came to hoping to give her a promising project. The way this scene is filmed is extremely unsettling and from this minute mark the film continues to have immense nudity and sexual scenes of Marilyn. Not only does the graphic sexual scenes exploit Marilyn, but it can also be extremely triggering to the audience, especially women.
Marilyn’s pregnancy is shown throughout the film however the directing choice of having her second fetus speak to her about not causing any harm has evoked an uproar of black-lash. I will insert this scene below to give a better sense of the anger and confusion surrounding the “stylistic” choices of this part of the film.
It is understood that Marilyn Monroe was such a light of life and gave so much to other people while enduring her own struggles. This film depicts those feelings of depression and frustration she experienced, but in a very dramatic and extreme way. There are many scenes of her screaming, being dragged away, and acting in a more-so “entertaining way”, rather than a realistic way. The acting and direction of Marilyns character seemed to only serve the aesthetic of the movie rather than the true and raw emotions of Marilyn.
Ana de Armas is quoted in an interview talking about the spiritual and ghost experiences while filming in Marilyns home. Armas says “she would throw things off the wall sometimes and get mad if she didn’t like something”, and while to the cast and filming crew this may have been exciting and interaction, it should have been taken as a sign to not follow though with the film. (GQ 2022)
Marilyn Monroe was a beautiful person inside and out and continues to be a beautiful soul present within the entertainment industry today. We will remember her from the work she did and the life SHE lived, and not the portrayal of her from the eyes of a man.