Norma Jeane Mortenson became Marilyn Monroe for the Hollywood machine in 1945. The new HBO documentary, Love, Marilyn is based on Marilyn’s private writings and correspondence. It premiered on June 17, 2013.
Over 1,000 books have been written about Marilyn Monroe and many movies have been filmed. There are as many point of views looking into her life as their are people looking. So, why is this presentation of Marilyn worth remarking on?
This documentary was striking because, it doesn’t treat her as a love-lorn victim of powerful men. She’s not featured as a pathetic sex toy no one respected. This film dives into her life with honor, integrity and honestly. There’s truth that hurts and beauty that is truly painful. It’s simply a portrait of a woman. A woman with dreams, ambitions and hopes. It’s a story of a woman who created an image from a broken life. A woman who’s smile camouflaged tragedy. It’s a story about a woman who reached for the stars even as people propped her up on top of the world. These people adored the shadow, myth, and legend of her beauty, glamour and sexuality. But they didn’t really see Norma Jeane, the woman behind Marilyn’s mask. And because the world recognized her only as an object to lust after and fantasize about, the world failed at truly loving her.
I’ve shared some of the most poignant and astounding quotes from the documentary. Love, Marilyn is a very moving and insightful review of her life.
Here are some quotes from some of the selected readings in the documentary.
If anybody ever asked you what I was like, what Marilyn Monroe was really like, well… how would you answer them?” ~ Truman Capote thinking back to a conversation he had with Marilyn. He answered, “I would tell them I have to think about it.”
“I was to know her perhaps better than anybody had ever known her. Yet I was to know her not at all.”
“She haunts us with questions that can never be answered. All beauty is mystery.” ~ One of her admirers
“Maybe I will never be able to do what I hope to. But at least I have hope.”
“She came to us in all of her mother’s doubt and left in mystery.” ~ Norman Mailer
Marilyn Monroe was a legend. She created a myth of what a poor girl from a deprived background could attain, but I have no words to describe the myth and the legend. I did not know this Marilyn Monroe. Nor did she. ~ Lee Strasberg, close friend and acting coach
“Monroe’s personal and intimate ability to inhabit our fantasies has gone right one. As I write this, she is still better known than most living movie stars, most world leaders, and most television personalities. The surprise is that she has rarely been taken seriously enough to ask why that is so. ~ Gloria Steinem
“The girl had little education and no knowledge except for the knowledge of her own experiences. She was a simple eager young woman, who rode a bike to the classes she was taking. A decent-hearted kid whom Hollywood brought down – legs parted. All young actresses in that time and place were thought of as prey to b overwhelmed and topped by the male. To be brought down.” ~ Elia Kazan
“One simple reason for her life story’s endurance is the premature end of it. When the past dies, there is mourning, but when the future dies, our imaginations are compelled to carry it on.” ~ Gloria Steinem
In Marilyn’s own words, captured from scribbles and musings in notebooks and her personal papers.
“There is nothing to hold on to – but reality, to realize the present whatever it may be.”
“Life starts from now.”From time to time / I make it rhyme / But don’t hold that kind of / Thing against me / Oh, well, what the hell / So it won’t sell. / What I want to tell / Is what’s on my mind / Tain’t dishes / Tain’t wishes / It’s thoughts / Flinging by / Before I die / And to think / In ink
“Keep looking around, only much more so, observing, not only myself but others, everything. Take things – it’s – for what they – it’s – are worth.”
“My body is my body, every part of it.”
“The lack of any consistent love and caring — and the and the mistrust and fear of the world was the result. There were no benefits except what it could teach me about the basic needs of the young, the sick, and the weak.”
“Everyone’s childhood plays itself out. No wonder no one knows the other, or can completely understand. How do we know the pain of another’s earlier years, let alone all that he drags with him. I think to love bravely is the best… and to accept as much as one can bear.”
You’re not a scared, lonely little girl anymore. Remember, you can sit on top of the world…. It doesn’t feel like it.
The sensitivity is so full and so strong, it is dangerous because the emotions can and do rule everything. You do things out of fear and you must start to do things out of strength. And my question — where do I get the strength?I think I am very lonely. / My mind jumps. / I see myself in the mirror now, / Brow furrowed. / If I lean close, / I will see what I don’t want to know. / Tension, sadness, disappointment / My eyes dulled… / Cheeks flushed with capillaries / That look like rivers on a map. / Hair lying like snakes. / My mouth makes me the saddest / Next to my dead eyes / There is a dark line between the lips and / the outline of several / Waves in a turbulent storm… / It says… / It says, / Don’t kiss me. / Don’t fool me. / I’m a dancer who cannot dance.
“When one must stay alone, the other must stay apart.” On her pending divorce from Arthur Miller
“Ah, life, they have cheated you.”
“As far as I’m concerned, the happiest time of my life is now. There’s a future and I can’t wait to get to it.” On starting a new production company.
The more I think of it the more I realize there are no answers. Life is to be lived. And since it is comparatively so short – maybe too short; maybe too long – the one thing I know for sure — it isn’t easy. Now that I want to live and I feel suddenly not old, not concerned about previous things except to protect myself, my life and to desperately (pray) tell the universe — I trust it.”
Songs from the documentary
I Wanna Be Loved By You performed by Marilyn Monroe
All of Me performed by Michael Bublé
- “Love, Marilyn”: Coming to HBO this summer. (berkman.ca)
- HBO’s ‘Love, Marilyn’ Adds Little to the Legend (aarp.org)
- Amazing People: Marilyn Monroe (reasonsxtoxlive.wordpress.com)
- Marilyn Monroe at Home in Hollywood: Color Portraits, 1953 (life.time.com)