Mark Rappaport's creative bio-pic about actress Jean Seberg is presented in a first-person, autobiographical format (with Seberg played by Mary Beth Hurt). He seamlessly interweaves cinema,... See full summary »
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Mark Rappaport's creative bio-pic about actress Jean Seberg is presented in a first-person, autobiographical format (with Seberg played by Mary Beth Hurt). He seamlessly interweaves cinema, politics, American society and culture, and film theory to inform, entertain, and move the viewer. Seberg's many marriages, as well as her film roles, are discussed extensively. Her involvement with the Black Panther Movement and subsequent investigation by the FBI is covered. Notably, details of French New Wave cinema, Russian Expressionist (silent) films, and the careers of Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, and Clint Eastwood are also intensively examined. Much of the film is based on conjecture, but Rappaport encourages viewers to re-examine their ideas about women in film with this thought-provoking picture. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
When Mary Beth Hurt auditioned for the role of Jean Seberg, she shocked the filmmakers by revealing that not only was she born in the same town as Seberg (Marshalltown, Iowa), their families were neighbors who knew each other. See more »
masterful essay on Seberg's career and the men who influenced and often controlled it and her
I rented this video essay because I was recently reminded of this great independent American director, many of whose works I saw a decade ago and loved, and started a fairly useless thread about him that got few replies on an IMDb forum. Apparently, he is still awfully underground and unknown.
I don't know if this would change things even if I could magically get a bunch of people to see it. Basically, it's a 100-minute deconstruction of the late American actress Jean Seberg's career, with Seberg "played by" narrator Mary Beth Hurt, who (as stand in for both author/director Rappaport and the dead actress) offers a withering feminist critique of the roles, both on and offscreen, that naive small-town Iowa girl Seberg found herself thrust into from the moment she first auditioned for Otto Preminger's film of Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan in 1955 at the age of 17. Questioning the way in which male directors dominate and abuse female stars, the casting by so many men of their wives as whores and cheats, the pornography of suffering in every rendition of Joan and the choices that women - but not men - get pushed into making as they age, this is a wide-ranging look at both Hollywood and European morality in the film industry, at the politics of the late 60s and how they impacted Seberg and other star actresses like Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave, and much more.
A provoking and pointedly subversive and subjective document, rather than a "documentary", this is I think essential viewing for anyone interested in the politics and sociology of stardom, and for fans of Seberg, Preminger, Jean-Luc Godard and Clint Eastwood in particular. Those interested in Seberg's films should be warned that the endings of "À bout de soufflé", "Lilith" and "Bonjour Tristesse" are given away. I can imagine that many would find the approach here irritating and even offensive, particularly those more wedded to traditional documentary styles, but to me it is a masterpiece and not far off the level of Chris Marker ("Sans Soleil") and Orson Welles ("Filming 'Othello'") in this fairly rare cinematic form. Mark Rappaport is not after and probably doesn't believe in some kind of absolute "truth", some specific answer as to why Seberg's career and life ended the way they did, indeed he is willing to place some of the blame on the actress herself; he is interested in provoking discussion and thought, and in that he succeeds entirely.
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