‘The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes’ Netflix Documentary Review – ‘The Unheard Tapes: The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe’ is a documentary film directed by Emma Cooper that covers the last few weeks of Monroe’s life in order to shed additional light on the terrible night of her untimely death. The movie has a total running time of 101 minutes.
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The Unheard Tapes: The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe is a Netflix documentary film directed by Emma Cooper. It tells the story of American actress and cultural icon Marilyn Monroe’s life and untimely death through archival video and never-before-seen interviews with her friends.
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‘The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes’ Review
Netflix adores a shambles. Take, for example, season five of “Selling Sunset” and “Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes,” two of the company’s most popular titles right now. Although the streaming service did not originate this form of entertainment, they do own a content company that produces fascinating reflections on reality on a weekly basis.
Emma Cooper’s “The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes,” which was scraped from the bottom of the barrel and served for an audience of armchair detectives, is a unique kind of nasty. It’s too shaky, too speculative about her life and unexplained death to have any real purpose.
This is the type of true-crime documentary where the main character’s voiceover repeats words, and the editing occasionally recaps everything, so you don’t miss anything important. It nearly offers the complete plot synopses in a single moment, which we’ve reconstructed here in full, utilising punctuation from Netflix subtitles:
“Marilyn Monroe’s death was a massive event, with pages and pages of coverage. Question marks are used to express uncertainty. Excavate, excavate, excavate. Over a period of two years. The bugging, the eavesdropping in Hollywood and Los Angeles. Had she been assassinated? John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Jimmy Hoffa were all members of the Kennedy family. Files from the White House and the FBI Honesty. Putting the pieces together. And then there was Marilyn’s death. “Focus, focus, focus,” says the narrator.
That crappy bit of slam poetry by investigative author and reporter Anthony Summers appears about 75 minutes into the film, apparently to remind desensitised, or honestly, distracted audiences of all the burning problems at hand.
“The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes” does not even attempt to take the spectator on an emotional journey, either through her own life or through Summers’ inquiry; there are no important feelings for the viewer to experience here other than cheap disdain, awe, and pity.
This movie has little empathy for Monroe’s famous mental torment, save for the impact she may have when the doc shows us an image of her dead in bed. She’s little more than a golden-haired enigma; a well-known corpse.
Summers is the focus of this video, which showcases the tapes that assisted him in writing his Monroe book Goddess, which was published in 1985 after two years and hundreds of interviews.
And, as crude as this documentary is, it’s more or less about getting him on camera to talk about it before he’s unable to do so himself, just as his phone calls in 1982 were attempting to elicit the full story from the ageing likes of directors Billy Wilder and John Huston, Monroe’s close friends, and the children and spouse of her last psychiatrist, Ralph Greenson.
Summers collects a variety of eyewitness tales, most of which are based on firsthand speculation; the documentary collages them and allows actors to lip-synch the calls.
There are few answers here, and it’s more about stirring: “The Unheard Tapes” focuses on conspiracy theories regarding Monroe’s ties with the Kennedy brothers, as well as how her radical politics made government operatives sweat.
But her celebrity and impact are really secondary to her sorrow in this film, much like how it touches on more nefarious aspects of old Hollywood business, sex transactions, black book names but can only cast gloomy shadows.
Monroe is dehumanised despite the fact that the film spends so much time mentioning her name, discussing the various painful relationships she had in her life, and displaying footage from when she was at her best in front of the camera. She plays another disembodied voice in this film, which alternates close-ups with frightening imagery of rolling audio cassettes.
When seeing the rare speaking film of her, she appears to have very little physical space; the media public did not know or care how to talk to her; they didn’t know what to do with her other than asking her about her children or poke her about trivial matters. As evidenced by footage of her being swarmed outside of a mental facility, we can see how much talking and thinking about her in this way did not assist her.
In 2022, we’re a little more open to mental health than we were in Monroe’s time; just look at other Netflix algorithms, like the circus-ready reality show “Love is Blind,” in which characters advocate for counselling during the show’s reunion. But we haven’t grown any better at interpreting a life story like Monroe’s; putting it through the true-crime documentary mill for a passive shock is just as tabloid-esque as it was when she was alive and just as craven.
Should you watch it or Skip it?
The Unheard Tapes: The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe is a decent documentary that can be a little sensationalised and tough to watch at times. Aside from that, listening to Monroe’s voice is difficult. It’s eerie and painful, and it has a mesmerising quality to it. Overall, it’s a pleasant viewing, albeit one with a number of flaws.
THE MYSTERY OF MARILYN MONROE: THE UNHEARD TAPES unpacks the struggles of a star whose magnetic presence still lives on today. Emma Cooper’s fascinating documentary, featuring previously unheard audio recordings, is now on Netflix. pic.twitter.com/zrnk08XJQ0
— Netflix Tudum (@NetflixTudum) April 28, 2022
The Unheard Tapes: The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe is currently available on Netflix.