Blonde, Netflix: trailer, launch date, photographs, plot, forged

Blonde, Netflix: trailer, launch date, photographs, plot, forged
Blonde, Netflix: trailer, launch date, photographs, plot, forged

Euan Franklin

essentially the most distinguished picture in our minds of Marilyn Monroe is her standing
over a subway grating, her ivory cocktail gown blowing upwards whereas she smiles and pushes it down. It turned one of many defining photos of the 20th
century, used to advertise Billy Wilder”s 1955 film The Seven Year Itch, and still graces the walls of homes around the world.

But it was a different photograph of Monroe that captured the novelistic imagination of Joyce Carol Oates. This picture showed Norma Jeane Baker, as she was then known, at age 15 with brunette hair after winning a beauty pageant. After seeing it, Oates was inspired to write her Pulitzer-nominated novel Blonde: a 740-page tome, giving a fictionalised account of Norma Jeane from childhood to her death in 1962 at the age of 36.

Kiwi writer-director Andrew Dominik (best known for his Oscar-nominated Western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) had been developing a film adaptation of Oates’s book since 2010. It’s finally seeing a release on Netflix this September, and it’s already proving controversial. Here’s everything we know about his Blonde.

Photo: Netflix

What’s the Blonde plot?

The story starts with Norma Jeane’s fraught childhood growing up with an ‘incandescent’ mother, Gladys, before being thrown into an orphanage. Norma Jeane ascends from an abusive childhood to celebrity status, but at the cost of losing her sense of identity with her hair dyed and her name changed.

In Queue, Dominik elaborates: ‘The film’s very much concerned with the relationship with herself and with this other persona, Marilyn, which is both her armor and the thing that is threatening to consume her.’ The common perception of Marilyn Monroe, demonstrated by the movie roles she took, was a blonde bombshell with very little intelligence – a trope of 50s Hollywood. But in reality, she was a well-read woman who strove for characters with more depth.

Photo: Netflix

The film also looks at her marriages: first to police officer James Dougherty when she was just 16, then to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, and lastly to the esteemed playwright Arthur Miller. There were also rumoured affairs with both John F. and Bobby Kennedy.

In ScreenDaily, Dominik claims that Blonde goes after ‘American sacred cows’ like DiMaggio and the Kennedys, widening the chances for controversy. The filmmaker likes to promote those chances, describing Blonde to be ‘a demanding movie – it is what it is, it says what it says. And if the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the f***ing audience’s problem. It’s not running for public office.’ In his interview with Vulture, he says: ‘There’s something in it to offend everyone.’

Photo: Netflix

Bolstered by an NC-17 rating (roughly equivalent to an 18 in the UK), there were also rumours detailing sexually provocative scenes – including one of Norma Jeane receiving oral sex while menstruating. The rumour was dismissed, but it’s been confirmed that there will be a scene of graphic rape committed by a studio executive.

This scene is a possible reason why Blonde has taken so long to be developed. Dominik says the film wouldn’t have been made without the #MeToo movement: ‘nobody was interested in that sort of s*** – what it’s like to be an unloved girl, or what it’s like to go through the Hollywood meat-grinder.’

Blonde is an interesting diversion for Dominik. As well as Jesse James, other films like the brutal gangster drama Killing Them Softly and the poignantly devastating Nick Cave documentary One More Time With Feeling have been predominantly male. Wouldn’t a female filmmaker be more fitting for the subject matter? Regardless, it’ll be fascinating to see how Dominik approaches the enigma of Marilyn Monroe.

Photo: Netflix

Who’s playing Marilyn Monroe in Blonde?

Ana de Armas – star of Knives Out, Blade Runner 2049 and No Time To Die – plays the ill-fated Norma Jeane Baker. According to Vanity Fair, Dominik was convinced after one audition that de Armas was their Marilyn.

The cast list rarely provides the actual names of people involved, though their titles are very transparent. Adrien Brody (Succession) is playing The Playwright, probably Arthur Miller, and Bobby Cannavale (The Irishman) plays The Ex-Athlete, probably Joe DiMaggio. Caspar Phillipson takes on The President, which is probably John F. Kennedy considering Phillipson has played JFK before in Jackie. Michael Masini (Birds of Prey) also stars as Tony Curtis and Ravil Isyavnov (GLOW) plays Billy Wilder.

Photo: Netflix

What’s the Blonde launch date?

Blonde might be accessible on Netflix from Friday 23 September. Another one in every of Dominik’s grand claims is that it is ‘the best movie in the world right now’, which, although crammed with bias, makes us impatient to look at it. For now, we’ll accept the trailer.

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