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Film review: Bettie Page Reveals All

March 31st, 2014     by Sarah Mangle     Comments

Photo courtesy of Music Box Films

The famous pin-up model from the 1950’s, Bettie Page is frequently described as “innocent” and “sweet” contrasted with her ability to pose in kinky positions and embody sexuality. This is an unfortunate, misogynist, manufactured, boring juxtaposition that Bettie Page Reveals All, directed by Mark Mori, unfortunately doesn’t avoid.

People often talk about the fact that Bettie was Christian and worked in the soft porn, sex, and kink industry, as if that is some kind of surprising contradiction. But why is it a contradiction? Why do we imagine that kind, happy women who have a spiritual life can’t also have a great sexuality? It’s a false set up. I enjoy sex and I’m also nice, just like Bettie Page. Many of us are in this category, and it’s not that surprising, or even the most interesting thing about Bettie Page.

Bettie Page Reveals All is arranged in a curious way. We begin the movie briefly at Bettie’s funeral. A mix of stock and documentary footage and re-enactments not actually featuring Bettie Page is used to narrate the story of her career. Bettie Page is interviewed, in her older age reflecting on her life, as a narrating track. Many photographers who she worked with are also interviewed. Bettie Page tells stories about growing up working class, designing her own clothes (many amazing bikinis!), and she also tells the stories of a lot of sexual abuse and physical violence, so let this also be your trigger warning. Movies rarely give appropriate trigger warnings.

There is also a lot of airtime given to how Bettie Page was perfectly proportioned. This is fatphobic, and also significantly boring.

The most interesting parts of the movie were seeing Bettie Page’s love for her work, hearing her talk about her fashion designs, and witnessing the quirky personalities of some of the photographers she worked with. I especially appreciated the fashion featured in the movie. All this to say, I don’t entirely recommend this movie, but there are a few interesting aspects of it that make it an okay way to spend an evening.

For more info and screening dates of Betti Page Reveals All, please click here.

Tags: film reel

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