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From the Journals of Jean Seberg 1995
Description: Tag Rappaport's constructive bio-pic about actress Jean Seberg is presented in a first-person, autobiographical format (with Seberg played by Mary Beth Hurt). He seamlessly interweaves cinema, politics, American society and culture, and movie theory to inform, entertain, and transport the viewer. Seberg's many marriages, as well as her movie roles, are discussed extensively. Her involvement with the Black Panther Movement and subsequent investigation by the FBI is covered. Notably, features of French Fresh Wave cinema, Russian Expressionist (silent) films, and the careers of Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, and Clint Eastwood are also intensively examined. Much of the movie is based on conjecture, but Rappaport encourages viewers to re-examine their concepts about girls in movie with this thought-provoking picture.
Released: 01 Mar 1996 Director: Mark Rappaport Writers: Mark Rappaport Actors: Mary Beth Hurt, Jean Seberg Genres: Documentary, Biography
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From the Journals of Jean Seberg Reviews:

The negatives comments this movie has received create me think that the commentators haven't taken a college literature course before (or at least not in a while). I don't mean this in a mean way; it's simply that one sitting in a classroom while twenty folks write twenty papers about one work of literature with twenty various takes on it can be a sobering & educational experience. Short of the creator writing other ebook after his or her first ebook & explaining the previous work, there's really no method to state with certainty what the mission of it all was. (& even then, some folks would distrust the author's explanation.) The same goes for music, art, poetry, & of course film.What Rappaport has done here is written a paper, using the approved standard of evidence most college-level courses require, theorizing about the life & work of actress Jean Seberg. That he sometimes casually throws out theories as fact is standard for such essays, papers, what-not. It may seem a tiny crass to think of someone's life as being launch to interpretation, but surely one can understand that there is everytime something social or political about presenting the storyline of one's life in, say, cable TV's "Biography" method, which tends to leave out or just touch on the gruesome sexual encounters or the public humiliations, or VH1's "Behind the Music" style, which focuses on nothing but.Rappaport does something various than both of those. Seberg's life is explained through the movies she's in, which, he suggests, is inextricably linked to the boys she loved, which is inextricably linked to the times she was living in, the political role she chose to play, & the another actresses whose careers ran parallel to hers. Is it all factual? More or less - facts are lined up to help the thesis, which is basically a feminist commentary on the role of girls in film, backed up with some fascinating (if maybe not entirely tenable) connections with things as various as Russian formalist silent cinema & Spaghetti Westerns. & lots of interpretation - Rappaport has written words for Mary Beth Hurt, as Jean Seberg, to comment on her looks, her acting style, the roles she played. To trust that he had access to some true "journals" of Seberg is somewhere between silly & gullible.See, it's not even pretending to be objective truth. If it were, why would it be narrated by an actress testing Jean Seberg, who's nearly twenty years dead by the making of the movie? It's a thesis, an idea, something thrown out for you to chew on & think about. You are of course gratis to disagree with the filmmaker, & it's eminently healthy to question or criticize such undertakings, as one could criticize a Ken Burns or an Errol Morris. Negative reactions to movies such as this one create me feel a tiny sad, because I think the mission has been missed. This is an especially engaging film, about a good-but-not-necessarily-great actress whose popular roles have captured the minds of those movie buffs geared to become part of this or that cult following. That her life was tragic is a matter of record. Short of asking her, which will require a trip to the another side, Rappaport has place words in her mouth to say you what he thinks about her life & work. Though not making films ourselves, we do much the same thing when we talk about films, books, records, works of art to our friends, co-workers, family, teachers, students.I'm not a professor, but if I were, & if this film were a paper, I'd give it an A. It's a damn nice read, & well documented. So to speak.


Wow! What a revelation this movie is. It examines the life of Jean Seberg and how it is destroyed by her acting career. It is a complex film, one that really defies explanation. It combines movie clips from her movies and the movies of another film stars with dialogue spoken by Mary Beth Harm as Jean Seberg. From her early career as a poor actress in Preminger's Saint Joan to her fast arrival in Goddard's Breathless to her slow descent into madness after being hounded by the FBI, the movie examines how the happenings affected the actress and also what they tell about the globe of Hollywood. The roles that girls are offered are compared with those that boys get. The function of the closeup is explained with examples dating back to the earliest films. The parallels in the careers of Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, and Seberg are shown. Seberg is also compared with Clint Eastwood and the development of his career through closeups is compared to hers. All of this may sound mundane, but it is not.The movie exposes the assumptions of Hollywood and the results of these assumptions on the audience. An earlier reviewer tells that it is revisionist history, but it is simply an honest look at what Hollywood did then and still does today to women. Who are our large stars? Julia Roberts, who played a hooker to become famous. Demi Moore, who is paid to reveal her fake breasts. And about 8200 men. Calling this movie politically correct or feminist simply allows the reviewer to ignore the facts that it presents. After seeing it, the viewer will never see movie the same method again.


I rented this video essay because I was recently reminded of this nice independent American director, many of whose works I saw a decade ago and loved, and started a fairly useless thread about him that got several replies on an IMDb forum. Apparently, he is still awfully underground and unknown.I don't know if this would change things even if I should magically receive a bunch of folks to see it. Basically, it's a 100-minute deconstruction of the late American actress Jean Seberg's career, with Seberg "played by" narrator Mary Beth Hurt, who (as stand in for both author/director Rappaport and the dead actress) offers a withering feminist critique of the roles, both on and offscreen, that naive small-town Iowa woman Seberg found herself thrust into from the moment she first auditioned for Otto Preminger's movie of Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan in 1955 at the age of 17. Questioning the method in which male directors dominate and abuse female stars, the casting by so many boys of their wives as whores and cheats, the pornography of suffering in each rendition of Joan and the choices that girls - but not boys - receive pushed into making as they age, this is a wide-ranging look at both Hollywood and European morality in the movie industry, at the politics of the late 60s and how they impacted Seberg and another star actresses like Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave, and much more.A provoking and pointedly subversive and subjective document, rather than a "documentary", this is I think essential viewing for anyone interested in the politics and sociology of stardom, and for fanatics of Seberg, Preminger, Jean-Luc Godard and Clint Eastwood in particular. Those interested in Seberg's movies could be warned that the endings of "À bout de soufflé", "Lilith" and "Bonjour Tristesse" are given away. I can imagine that many would search the approach here irritating and even offensive, particularly those more wedded to traditional documentary styles, but to me it is a masterpiece and not far off the lvl of Chris Marker ("Sans Soleil") and Orson Welles ("Filming 'Othello'") in this fairly rare cinematic form. Tag Rappaport is not after – and probably doesn't trust in – some type of absolute "truth", some specific respond as to why Seberg's career and life ended the method they did, indeed he is willing to zone some of the blame on the actress herself; he is interested in provoking discussion and thought, and in that he succeeds entirely.



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