The Notorious Bettie Page

Everything about ‘girl next door’ Bettie Page’s pictures by today’s standards is pretty tame, but in the time when she was modelling they were quite the opposite. Split between black and white and colour with some great splashes of humour the film tells the all but short story of Bettie’s modelling career from swim suits, past nude and up to bondage. The real essence of the portrayal captured so well by Gretchen Moll (if Reese can get an Oscar for June Carter then surely Miss. Moll should be eligible for contention) as Bettie is one of innocence and wonder. Brought up as strict Christian and never losing her naivety, the fact that she is so oblivious to what she is doing, seeing her photo shoots as dressing up and ultimately performance, is what made Bettie such an great model and now icon. It is really a story of dreams; after all she wanted to be an actress and acts when she poses giving the shots an air of fun and an almost frivolous nature. It is testament to her and Gretchen’s performance that by the tale end of the film you have almost totally forgotten a horrible act that happened near the beginning, and that was betties power, hypnotising you into losing your troubles and just being mesmerised by her. The forest scene where she strips off completely for the first time is almost garden of Eden like and when she professes that ‘weren’t Adam and Eve naked after all’ it is not just her trying to justify what she does in the eyes of her God, but it is that she really believes it. Adored and hated in equal measure in her lifetime and revered now as the mother of everyone from fetishists to suicide girls this is more about what Bettie (if even unwittingly) changed and how peoples perception became altered by a challenge to the normality they were used to. With elements in common with ‘The People vs. Larry Flint’ but told from the models point of view, the film closes with actual footage of Page dancing so stupidly it amazes you how anyone could have ever found her remotely offensive. Saint, sinner, nice or naughty this is an interesting insight to one woman who to some is regarded as highly as say Elvis.

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