Thursday, 26 July 2007
My first MIFF screening was a short, 1987 doco titled Eve and Marilyn. Perhaps in retrospect I would have liked to have chosen a more recently made film, but I was bewitched by the prospect of Marilyn Monroe (and I can assure you I’m not the first). I listened intrigued by the first hand account of (74 year old) documentary photographer Eve Arnold tell of her time spent with Monroe as Arnold’s images of Monroe were slowly zeroed in on. Sometimes small and dumpy, other times tall and graceful – Monroe had the ability to transform herself in front of a camera. In her earlier years, where studio photography was the only way to gain a profile which lead to movie roles, Monroe played a role in front of the camera – one that we are all intimately familiar with – the playful, curvaceous and sexy movie star. Arnold reflects that it was only when she actually became a movie star that reality and fantasy collided and she couldn’t cope. But it was her trust in Arnold, and Arnold’s respect of her, that meant they had a “close” working bond. Arnold spent 2 months on the set of The Misfits recording the behind the scenes action with her camera at the request of Monroe who had had quite enough of being the centre of a publicity storm wherever she went. And it is these collection of images that tell a more intimate portrait of Monroe than just the sassy publicity shots. While sometimes fragile and sometimes naïve, Monroe was an otherwise savvy, image conscious presenter of herself and used the photographers to her advantage. They in turn used her to sell her image to the world.