Qui meurt et qui vit dans les photos? Norma Jeane Mortenson avait alors 12 ans.

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Qui meurt et qui vit dans les photos? Norma Jeane Mortenson avait alors 12 ans.

Message par Borges le Jeu 21 Juin 2012 - 8:41




• Pablo Villaça in Brazil

On June 1st, I published the photo that illustrates this post on my tumblr as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe's birthday (she would complete 86 years of age; she died 50 years ago), and suddenly I found myself with a lump in my throat. Taken in 1938, when Marilyn was still Norma Jeane Mortenson and was only 12, the picture shows us a girl that, with her eyes directed to some point up and to her left, had not yet learned how to face the camera with the security of an absolute woman that she would exhibit during the (few) following decades.

Struggling to look old and beautiful, with her unruly hair pulled back and a scarf tied around her neck, the girl comes out almost defiant, as if she were being judged by the photographer and did not care about it - something natural in a child who learned to work and to defend herself in an early age after almost being killed by her insane grandmother when she was 2 and avoiding being raped at 6.

At the same time, the worn and tattered appearance of the photograph moves us by itself: it's like we're seeing, in its fading sepia, the very representation of the lost and sad youth of the model - and the Marilyn she would construct in the future would struggle until the end to erase the marks of her ugly and tragic childhood. And fail to do it, as we know.

I look at this picture and can almost see the captured soul of Norma Jeane, forever trapped in a small, old and brown box while the avatar she conceived to escape it could be found parading around the world with her dazzling and smooth blond hair, her perfect face, the seductive dot on the left cheek, her generous breasts and that unforgettable body, full of curves, flesh and eroticism. But the vulnerable look and the delicate voice would always betray the weakness inside, the self-doubt about her worth and the fear of being returned to the old box.

And that, sadly, was what made Marilyn Marilyn: though wonderful, she was a woman who remained accessible to mere mortals because she felt unworthy to be among the legends. That was the basis of the Monroe persona: the diva who could break in a thousand pieces if touched by tough hands.

When thinking of "Marilyn Monroe" (or, as Roger Ebert wrote: "When I was a kid, we said it as one word: marilynmonroe"), I'm torn between two paradoxically conflicting and complementary images: the object of desire whose dress flows suggestively over the subway ventilation grate, but also the one that, in one of her latest photo shoots, didn't bother to hide the immense and most human scar on her abdomen.

And behind all these, the girl trapped in the old photo.


Pablo Villaça, one of Brazil's leading film critics, is a Far-Flung Correspondent for this site.

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/on-a-photo-of-marilyn.html
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Borges

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