REVIEW: Netflix’s ‘The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes’ enlightens audiences about the late actress’ life

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(Archive photo by Parker Robb | Collegian Media Group)

Netflix’s new documentary, “The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes,” uncovers the hidden life of one of the most well-known public figures, Marilyn Monroe.

In this new documentary, audiences experience a new side of Monroe’s life, starting with how she was introduced and got her foot in the door with acting. Another point the documentary makes clear is how much she was used as America’s “sex symbol.”

Irish author Anthony Summers guides viewers through several audiotapes of conversations he held with people intertwined in Monroe’s life during the years before her death — and even some with those active in her life just hours before her death.

Summers wrote a book about Marilyn’s untold life called “Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe.” Throughout the documentary, Summers shows audiences the evidence he has collected during the years investigating the Monroe case trying to figure out if this was an accident or intended.

The documentary dives further into Monroe’s struggles during her career, some dealing with substance abuse and also issues dealing with health regarding pregnancy. Audiences also get a better understanding of Monroe’s early life and childhood.

While growing up, she lived in foster homes and orphanages and was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. Monroe’s mother struggled with her mental health and was placed in psychiatric facilities during Monroe’s childhood. She didn’t discuss much of her childhood, only confiding in a select few people because of the mental strain it put on her.

In addition to her early life, the documentary focuses heavily on the wide range of relationships with friends and marriages during Monroe’s life. Several times, associates of Monroe mentioned behavior from her side and the constant criticizing she placed on herself.

The documentary also shows how she was treated harshly by her partners who didn’t appreciate the way she acted. Her previous husband criticized her for being over-sexualized, and it was addressed that she was physically abused during her first marriage. Monroe was said to be mentally unstable on several sets after this.

The documentary slowly leads into the relationship Monroe held with both Kennedy brothers — Robert Kennedy, who goes by Bobby, and former U.S. President John Kennedy. The relationship she held with the brothers became a central focus of the documentary, and is broken down beyond the basics.

Some of the details Summers finds are shocking, and the situation takes a turn in the connection one of the brothers had in the death of Monroe. Summers found the situation was covered up, and many photos and recordings of Monroe with the brothers had been trashed by the FBI.

An unforgettable moment in the documentary was at the end, when it was revealed that Monroe supposedly said to Robert Kennedy on the night of her death, “I feel passed around, I feel used, I feel like a piece of meat.”

One thing audiences will take from this documentary is how much Monroe was used by those around her, either for her body, her status or her name.

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