Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Film: It's a lot of shots in chronological order that ultimately say nothing at all

Universal Wifey and I attended a screening of The Notorious Betty Page a couple of weeks ago. Sorry not to write it up earlier, but I have been trying to find something to say.

The film is not bad. You will not resent the ticket price. But you will leave the theatre feeling slightly conned.

The promotional literature talks about how Betty Page attracted the attention of the FBI and tries to paint her as some sort of Goodnight and Good Luck style mis-targeted threat to American morality. The film, on the other hand, portrays her as a simple country girl who just, sort of, fell into taking her clothes off for the camera. I am sure she was quite naive when she started, but surely she noticed that she was becoming famous. Surely she noticed that she had the money to flit-off to the beach when she wanted to. The film shows her moving from her, "And then my clothes just fell off!" innocence to S&M royalty, the whole time behaving as if she never realised what she was doing, "But we were laughing all the time when we took those pictures - they're not bad". The first indication that she is self-aware is when she heads home for thanksgiving one year, and has to check that her mother hasn't seen the nude pictures - only the nice ones. And the audience is there thinking, "Oh, so she did notice she was modelling nude."

We don't at any time discover whether the Notorious Betty Page was promiscuous or chaste, wealthy or poor, a real threat to the American establishment or just a girl who got naked a lot, happy or sad about her life, or how she ultimately ended-up. Not knowing much about Betty Page when I went into the screening, I would have liked to have known more about her after I left. But no. Nothing. it's like a dramatised sequence of moments in someone's life, placed in chronological order and completely failing to tell any kind of story.


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