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The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes- Movie Review

Scenes from Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes

The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes is a 2022 documentary on the life and mysterious death of the famous American actress, Marilyn Monroe. The film was directed by Emma Cooper for Netflix and was released on 27 April 2022 on the OTT platform.

Now streaming on Netflix.

The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes- Movie Review

A documentary about the iconic film star, Marilyn Monroe who happened to be known as a sex symbol in the 1950s is sure to attract the attention of viewers. There has been plenty of speculation surrounding the death of the American actress, especially when it comes to her ties with the American president John F. Kennedy and US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

Premise and Format

The documentary goes through the life and death of Marilyn Monroe via the recorded tapes of people in the actresses’ inner circle. These tapes are recorded by Anthony Summers, the author of the book Goddess (1985). Throughout the film, Summers gave his commentaries and conjectures to guide the audience through the entire story. The bits and pieces of the recording are really interesting, especially when the people in Marilyn’s life describe her and her various stages of life. It allows us, audience to feel like we are getting a first hand experience talking to these people, which in a sense, gives us autonomy to create our own perception of the actresses’ life.

Multiple different recordings are played from multiple different people with very little commentary in between to drive the whole direction of the movie. However, the downside to this format is that the extremely factual way of presentation gives us close to zero feel of a build up or emotional connection with what has been happening. even until the end, when we learnt the emotional stress and mental health issues Marilyn was potentially facing, there was almost no amount of sympathy nor contempt in the storytelling. It ultimately feels blank.

Scenes from Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes
Actors lip sync to the recordings to give a video-recorded interview feel. Photo: Netflix

Plot and conclusion

When it comes to watching documentaries, a lot of the appeal also lies in learning something new about the story. The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe builds the excitement really well by putting the words “The Unheard Tapes” into its title. Therefore, audiences will naturally be keen to find out something new or groundbreaking, even, from the movie. Unfortunately, the actual documentary doesn’t quite live up to this standard. We did get some additional information about Marilyn’s childhood and the documentary sequenced the way Marilyn benefitted from her high-profile relationships. However, none of the information was very impactful when it comes to her untimely and mysterious death. Even the build up for her death presents no new information and the reasoning told for her death, albeit communicated in a convincing way, is merely a conjecture Summers made based on what is already known to the public. 

Scenes from Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes
Anthony Summers giving his opinion on the reason of Marilyn's death. Photo: Netflix


A documentary that fails to capture any solid conclusion nor does it entertain with its storytelling.

3/ 10

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