Review by Paris Jade
Travel back to the 1950s, when Hollywood was a booming business that built legends and icons. One of the most glamorous stars of the day was none other than Marilyn Monroe: famous in life and death, especially her death. The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes is a documentary centered around the life and death of the eponymous starlet. It is told through archive footage of unseen interviews and audiotapes with friends of Marilyn, which came from author Anthony Summer.
This documentary was perfectly presented — the use of archive footage is a great way of storytelling. The editors and director did a fantastic job. While the plot itself is an incredibly sad story when you learn of the things that Marilyn had faced in her life, the group of storytellers making this film made it a very emotional journey.
The recorded tapes of Marilyn herself are put to great use in the film. As you watch the documentary, it's almost as if Marilyn tells you her life story. Her voice sounds as clear as if she were sitting in the room, and when it's over, you can't help but feel a blanket of sadness on you as you think about what you just watched and everything you've learned about Monroe. What is even more interesting and real is that once they finally get to Monroe's death, you don't hear from her again, which leaves a very eerie feeling.
The only real problem with the film was when tapes were played of conversations between Anthony Summers and someone else over the phone. They had actors lip-sync the conversation as if they were that person. You could honestly say it feels a bit cheap when you watch it, and it could do fine without.
If you know almost nothing about Marilyn Monroe, The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes is a great place to start your education on all things Monroe. However, if you already know all about the iconic star, you might already know everything there is to be theorized in this film. Summers goes into talking about her childhood and how her past traumatized her to her death, and the conspiracy theories of the cause. Any run-of-the-mill Monroe fan would know these types of things. Still, if you are a Monroe fan and just want a refresher course, you should absolutely watch this film because it is thoroughly well-made.
See The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes on Netflix, out April 27.