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‘Blonde’ Director Says His Film Is Not Anti-Abortion: ‘People Feel Very Protective of Her, and I Think That’s Part of the Problem’

”No one would have given a s–t about that if I’d made the movie in 2008, and probably no one’s going to care about it in four years’ time,“ Andrew Dominik tells TheWrap

The new Marilyn Monroe film “Blonde” has faced its fair share of controversies, whether over the film’s NC-17 rating or star Ana de Armas’ accent, but writer-director Andrew Dominik doesn’t see any truth to claims his movie is anti-abortion. In fact, he sees the point of his film as directly addressing the “rescue fantasy” he feels many of the film’s detractors are experiencing.

“The film is concerned with the meaning of Marilyn Monroe I guess a bit more than the documented reality, but I think what the film is really about is, I think everything to do with Marilyn Monroe is kind of a rescue fantasy,” Dominik told TheWrap in a recent interview about the Netflix drama. “It’s all written with this feeling that, ‘I understood her, I alone,’ and, ‘If I was there, this wouldn’t have happened.’ You see that in the Norman Mailer book, I think you see it in the Gloria Steinem book, and I think you see it in the movie ‘Blonde.’ And I think you also see it in the people that dislike the film, because they’re also trying to rescue her. They’re just trying to rescue her from me. But I think that when you have the desire to rescue somebody, probably the person they most need rescuing from is you (laughs).”

The film – which puts the viewer inside the mindset of Monroe through dreamlike and impressionistic visuals and storytelling – graphically depicts Monroe as undergoing multiple forced abortions. But some of the film’s critics have pointed to scenes in which an unborn fetus pleads with Marilyn not to abort it as making an anti-abortion statement.

When asked what he says to claims that the film is anti-abortion, Dominik said he believes these criticisms are a product of the specific political moment the world is currently experiencing.

“What the movie is saying is she’s not seeing reality. She’s seeing her own fears and desires projected onto the world around her,” Dominik began. “You see it constantly time and again that she’s reacting to a story that she’s carrying inside her. And I think sort of this desire to look at ‘Blonde’ through this Roe v. Wade lens is everybody else doing the same thing. They’ve got a certain agenda where they feel like the freedoms of women are being compromised, and they look at ‘Blonde’ and they see a demon, but it’s not really about that. I think it’s very difficult for people to step outside of the stories they carry inside themselves and see things of their own volition. And I think that’s really what the movie is about. The dangers of that. But you know, it’s difficult for people to be able to hold two things in their mind at once. It’s either black or white.”

Dominik continued, adding that he doesn’t think the film would be called anti-abortion had it been released five years ago.

“I think the movie is pretty nuanced actually, and I think it’s very complex, but that doesn’t fit —  people are obviously concerned with losses of freedoms, obviously they are,” the filmmaker said. “But, I mean, no one would have given a s–t about that if I’d made the movie in 2008, and probably no one’s going to care about it in four years’ time. And the movie won’t have changed. It’s just what sort of going on.”

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Ana de Armas in “Blonde” (Netflix)

Dominik also doesn’t think Monroe — at least as depicted in “Blonde” — actually wanted a child.

“I don’t think the movie is anti-pro choice. I don’t think it is at all,” he said. “And I’m not convinced that she actually wants to have a baby. I think she has feelings about not having a baby, but I’m not convinced that what she’s doing – I mean, she doesn’t end up having one.”

Elsewhere in our conversation, Dominik discussed the decision to include the abortions in the film (Monroe was only alleged to have had abortions, not confirmed), adding that motherhood looms large over Marilyn Monroe after her troubled upbringing.

“I think that pregnancy is the major stressful event. If you’re an unwanted child, as she was, then I think pregnancy is an extremely ambivalent and confronting situation because on the one hand, she gets to re-parent herself. She can, in a way, rescue herself from the drawer by having this child,” Dominik said. “So it’s this huge wish to undo the damage that was done. But on the other hand, her experience of pregnancy is her mother’s, her experience of motherhood is her own mother. And her mother having Norma meant that she was abandoned and she went insane. It destroyed her life. So I feel like Norma is in this horrible situation where she’s damned if she does and she’s damned if she doesn’t. There’s a wish for baby but there’s a fear of baby, and I think that’s kind of the central stressor on her.”

The “Assassination of Jesse James” filmmaker ultimately says he doesn’t begrudge people who feel a personal connection to Monroe, and that the point of the film was to conjure such a connection.

“I actually see that as a measure of the film’s success, that it inspires that kind of reaction,” Dominik said. “I also think that’s how the film functions. I think the primary relationship is between you the viewer and her the character, and nobody else in the story understands why she does what she does, but we understand it all. And so you’re sort of sitting there helplessly as she is a lonely person trying to negotiate this world that is just not interested in the reality of how she feels. And just have to watch as she’s unable to conquer her own demons, and that’s the whole idea of the movie. People feel very protective of her, and I think that’s part of the problem. I think that’s part of the reason why she’s dead.”

“Blonde” is now playing in limited release and will be streaming on Netflix on Sept. 28.