Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché
Jodie Foster (narrator), Alice Guy-Blaché, Gillian Armstrong, Diablo Cody
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…alluring… a compelling watch
Having worked on over a thousand films as a writer, producer or director, French pioneer filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché’s achievements are one for the history books.
Yet you will never find her name published in any of them.
Present at the birth of cinema at the turn of the 20th century, Guy-Blaché’s absence from the annals of filmmaking is explored with vivid intrigue in documentary Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché.
Be Natural explores how Guy-Blaché became absconded from history through limitations of outdated technology in preserving her films and from her experiences working in an industry riddled with patriarchy and sexism.
Guy-Blaché’s belief that film could be used for more than documenting real-life created the template for all films with a narrative structure that have followed. There is an expression of authenticity in her work that carried through not just in the performances she drew from actors but in her creation of material that bravely addressed at-the-time taboo topics such as inequality. Guy-Blaché’s modesty did not detract from her ingenuity, with the filmmaker helping introduce colour, sound and special effects to cinema during a time when films were dark, silent and static.
Be Natural’s willingness to invite the audience in on the mystery behind Guy-Blaché’s deletion from history is alluring, resulting in a compelling watch that adds appeal to dry subject matter relating to film-preservation and archiving.
Director Pamela B. Green presents Guy-Blaché’s fighting-spirit through archival footage – allowing Guy-Blaché to showcase her intelligent and likeable personality. This is given more credence in recounts of her life through the admiring eyes of her daughter Simone, Francophile narrator Jodie Foster and in interviews with present-day Hollywood filmmakers shocked by Guy-Blaché’s lack of profile.
Green uses motion and graphics (which she has built a career on) throughout Be Natural to create a work that is accessible to the public and not just appealing to academics.
Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché exists as a testament to an industry clamouring for the equal treatment of women through the gaze of an innovator that fought a large part of her life to be recognised.