Last week it was reported here that Blonde – the Netflix adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ controversial novel – has had its release postponed until 2022. Now, on his World of Reel blog, Jordan Ruimy has suggested that the delay may be caused by a studio dispute with director Andrew Dominik.
“Recent rumours have pointed towards the sudden move having to do with Dominik and the streaming giant fighting over final cut. A prominent film journalist, and a few others in European circles, have more or less confirmed this to me.
And so, I’ll elaborate a little further.
As it currently stands, Blonde is a sexually graphic NC-17 depiction of Monroe. Netflix was absolutely horrified by the cut Dominik submitted to them, which included a rape scene and ‘bloody menstrual cunnilingus’. They want a new version of the film, Dominik doesn’t.
The cut Netflix saw caught them completely off-guard. They were under the impression that this was an Oscar player when, in fact, it was this vague, obtuse arthouse film. Not sure what they expected from Dominik.”
Although the report has not been verified, both of these scenarios are taken directly from the novel, which falsely implies that Marilyn signed her first contract after being violated by the studio boss. Supposedly a metaphor for Hollywood’s exploitation of women, this and many other fictional episodes in Blonde depict Marilyn as a sexual plaything and perennial victim.
While she certainly experienced sexist attitudes, harassment and even abuse, this portrayal is a gross distortion of Marilyn’s lived experience. The real woman was far stronger and more complex than Oates – and perhaps Dominik – seem to believe, as Monroe biographer April VeVea writes here.
“I don’t really write about Marilyn anymore, but I did dedicate almost a decade of my life to learning everything I could about her. At one point, my book collection numbered over 400 (I’ve since parred down to about 75) just on her. I’ve gone through and received archival material and scans from around the country. Auction catalogues were my Bible. I’ve met some of the most knowledgeable people on the planet, and I still consider them dear friends.
What I found is one of the most maligned women in history. You might be thinking, ‘big words to describe an actress who died 59 years ago,’ but I can’t think of anyone with her staying power who authors constantly lie about. Most of these lies are centered around her death, but her life is full of just as many inaccuracies as well. Some of these lies were planted directly by Marilyn, but most came from people who never even met her…
With that out of the way, I can honestly say I’ve seen every available biopic on her. Some of them are actually enjoyable (if not always factually accurate) while others are garbage. I am old enough to remember when the first adaptation of Blonde was released in 2001 with Poppy Montgomery [reviewed here.] I found the whole thing jointly fascinating and disgusting. When you reach icon status like Marilyn has, you are no longer a person. You are an image that others see fit to alter, mock, worship, celebrate, etc.
You can imagine my surprise when the new adaptation was announced, as well as fans supporting of the picture. Usually, fans are incredibly weary of biopics because digital spheres are flooded with new people tweeting/posting about the ‘facts’ they learned. It doesn’t matter that the material labels itself as ‘non-biographical’ or a ‘creative retelling.’ People believe what they see with the mindset of ‘Well they must have gotten it somewhere!’ However, as a Marilyn fan, you lead the horse to fact filled water and hope they drink. If not, so be it.
I’ve followed Blonde’s development and production closely. I’m not going to lie, when it went through development hell, I was relieved. Pushing it back (which I would say is partly based on the story above and partly to capitalize on the 60th anniversary of her death) brought another sigh of relief. This doesn’t mean I don’t want art showcased, Ana de Armas to get robbed of an Oscar or wish for financial ruin for anyone involved in the project. I just (selfishly) don’t want to deal with the onslaught of newfound experts and ignorant commentary on someone who truly cannot be defined in a two hour film (nor can anyone else).
With today’s news of violent NC-17 content, I can honestly say I’m disgusted and horrified that anyone would think this was fit to make. To reduce a complicated human being to a mirror of someone’s lewd thoughts about HER life is one of the scummiest, most vile things someone can do to an individual, living or dead. Marilyn was a strong, smart and beautiful woman who clawed her way to the top. She has plenty of actual traumatic events that can be shared in her life without adding ‘juicy,’ degrading content in the name of a revisionist historical drama.
This probably seems like an overreaction. It probably is; however, what always blows my mind is if people REALLY understood the source content, saw how much she’s maligned and then imagined it happening to their fave, they’d be horrified …”