When the Bible talks about the sins of the father being visited on the children to the third and fourth generation, that is probably not God being vindictive so much as it is a statement of fact, and it certainly applies here, at least to the second generation.
Jane Fonda is a little girl lost. She accomplished a lot in life for a little girl lost, and made one - even by her admission now - big mistake in her visit to Hanoi. My dad called her "Hanoi Jane" up until his death earlier this year, and he was 92 and didn't even fight in Vietnam. It is telling that the acts of her life are named after other people - Henry, Vadim, Tom, Ted - I didn't see the fifth act named. Even now, at eighty, Jane Fonda seems like a person in search of herself.
Let's start at the first act, the root of all of her problems - Henry - as in Henry Fonda, her father. She said he was distant, without emotion, that she felt she always had to act like they were the perfect family even though dad was absent emotionally and could only show emotion in terms of a role in a film and mom was continually depressed at least in part because dad was having affairs with much younger women.
So Jane Fonda grows up pretty much without a personality. Even her first acting teacher admitted to her that when he first met her he had never met such a conventional and boring young woman. But she had acting talent - so much talent that she won two Best Actress Oscars while dad was waiting to win his first Best Actor Oscar.
I just couldn't stop being impressed by the irony of her life. Growing up as she did, the personalities of those around her were impressed strongly upon her own, this being particularly true of her first two husbands and of Simone Signoret, a famous French actress that she befriended while married to Roger Vadim. Also, her children now complain about some of the same things that she complained about concerning her dad. Her son by Tom Hayden, Troy, said that they lived in communal housing, that their vacations were wherever his parents were doing protests or events, that he took a backseat to their activism. Jane herself said she would look into the eyes of her daughter by Roger Vadim when she was a toddler and she would see her looking at her as though asking "Why don't you check in? Where are you emotionally?". The curse of Hank Fonda.
This is an encyclopedic work by HBO on Fonda, with her doing the bulk of the talking. If you want to learn about a subject, after all, first ask the subject!
Just one more thing. The documentary opens on Richard Nixon, in one of his famous tapes, talking in 1971 about "What is wrong with Jane Fonda?" and how Henry Fonda seems like such a nice man. What is up with a guy, an American President, who documents every word he ever said on tape, tells everybody that there are tapes, and then dares the courts to take them? A subject for another time and another documentary.
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