The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes Review: Mellow and Somewhat Haunting

The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes is a documentary film directed by Emma Cooper and encompasses the last few weeks of Monroe’s life to provide more clarity on the fateful night of her sudden demise. The film has a runtime of 101 minutes.

Netflix describes the documentary as:

This documentary explores the mystery surrounding the death of movie icon Marilyn Monroe through previously unheard interviews with her inner circle.

The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe review does not contain spoilers –

The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe is such an odd watch. Monroe’s life, in itself, is quite an interesting study. Her meteoric rise to fame, the way she held the gaze of millions of her fans with confidence and also her crushing decline from that position and the various controversies in which she was embroiled – all make you feel like picking through to understand how exactly she died. Her death has been surrounded by much of its own controversy and myth. Some are probable and believable, others not so much. But through it all, one thing is apparent – Marilyn Monroe was and will always be very much a part of our lives in one way or another.

The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe

So, coming to my original comment – the documentary film, keeping Monroe’s shocking life in mind, feels more of how Anthony Summers came to investigate Monroe than about the star herself. Summers is the writer of Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe, a book, like this documentary, that promises to rip open a much-loved star’s life to bring forth the secrets within. It, thus, is very odd to watch Summers giving voiceovers of his own experiences while following the story from its start – something that I wonder why was necessary since this has got nothing to do with Monroe in any way.

Sure, just like everyone else whose voices were heard in the film’s impressive collection of 650 unheard tapes, Summers was and is a necessary component. That’s also because Summers found these tapes throughout the years while he was investigating Monroe’s tragic death – thus, his take on the star’s life and death is crucial in a way. However, the way the film is set, it almost feels like we are watching a documentary on him investigating the death with other people talking about Monroe as an added bonus. Don’t get me wrong, the tapes are interesting but I am a little confused about who the subject is here.

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The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe

Plus, the tapes – watching actors with half their faces cut off lip-syncing the voices of the famous personalities on tape seem extremely icky and weird, somewhat disturbing even. There’s nothing inherently wrong with re-enactments. In fact, I enjoy them. However, the way the actors lip-sync the actual voices of the famous stars just seems sensationalist and a tad bit manipulative in some way. You can feel it in your gut that these voices just don’t go with the actors, regardless of how much you play dress-up with them to fit the times.

Apart from that, I think the footage, pictures and the tape themselves are quite impressive. I like the editing, it is done well and is great to watch. Monroe’s life, as previously mentioned, is just so glamorous yet dizzyingly lonely that you will be pulled towards the story instinctively, but I can’t say whether you’d be able to keep yourself from cringing sometimes.

Summing up: The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes

The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe

The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes is a decent documentary that sometimes seems sensationalised and a bit difficult to watch. Apart from that, it’s also quite tough listening to Monroe’s voice – it’s haunting and heartbreaking and there’s something hypnotic about it. All in all, it’s a decent watch, one with quite a few problems in itself.

The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes is streaming on Netflix.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Overall

SUMMARY

The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes is somewhat of a mellow watch, one that feels a bit problematic sometimes.

1 COMMENT

  1. Such a BS documentary. As if Hollywood would EVER let the truth come out…
    At that time the studios even decided who the stars should marry. Just for the sake of good publicity for the studio.
    What about the so called psychiatrist, that gave her access to an endless supply of medication??

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The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes Review: Mellow and Somewhat HauntingThe Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes is somewhat of a mellow watch, one that feels a bit problematic sometimes.