Andrew Dominik never shied away from controversy when making “Blonde,” his revisionist film about Marilyn Monroe’s life that drew criticism for its treatment of abortion politics and bleak portrayal of the abuse Monroe endured. But now that the discourse surrounding the Ana de Armas-led film has largely concluded, Dominik is ready to talk about the polarizing reaction it received.
In an appearance at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia (via The Hollywood Reporter), Dominik opened up about the backlash that his movie has generated. The director said that American audiences had the strongest negative reactions to the film, something he blamed on his decision to portray an American icon in a way that dramatically differs from current cultural mores.
“Now we’re living in a time where it’s important to present women as empowered, and they want to reinvent Marilyn Monroe as an empowered woman. That’s what they want to see,” Dominik said. “And if you’re not showing them that, it upsets them.”
Dominik went on to question that logic, saying that he felt no obligation to protect Monroe’s legacy because she is no longer alive and her likeness has so permeated pop culture that she is essentially a mythical figure.
“Which is kind of strange, because she’s dead. The movie doesn’t make any difference in one way or another,” he said. “What they really mean is that the film exploited their memory of her, their image of her, which is fair enough. But that’s the whole idea of the movie. It’s trying to take the iconography of her life and put it into service of something else, it’s trying to take things that you’re familiar with, and turning the meaning inside out. But that’s what they don’t want to see.”
That said, Dominik isn’t particularly worried about the backlash. He said that he was “really pleased” that so many people were offended by the film because he came of age at a time when being able to offend an audience “was a solemn duty, to wrench them out of a complacency about things.”
“Blonde” is now streaming on Netflix.