The 18-rated film, based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, features many imagined scenes from the star’s life. It has attracted huge controversy since it was released on the streaming giant earlier this week.
Blonde is not a standard biopic about Monroe and people have criticised the film as “traumatic” viewing, arguing it is “exploitative” of Monroe, highlighting in particular the multiple scenes of sexual assault that occur throughout.
Many people have also singled out the movie’s treatment of abortion. Blonde depicts Monroe as having had two illegal abortions against her will.
In one scene that has been shared and criticised widely on social media, CGI is used to portray Monroe’s foetuses, which look like fully formed babies, speaking to her.
“You won’t hurt me this time, will you?” a foetus asks Monroe.
Planned Parenthood are among the organisations and viewers to accuse the film of having an “anti-abortion” tone.
Caren Spruch, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s national director of arts and entertainment engagement, told The Hollywood Reporter: “As film and TV shapes many people’s understanding of sexual and reproductive health, it’s critical these depictions accurately portray women’s real decisions and experiences.
“While abortion is safe, essential healthcare, anti-abortion zealots have long contributed to abortion stigma by using medically inaccurate descriptions of foetuses and pregnancy. Andrew Dominik’s new film, Blonde, bolsters their message with a CGI-talking foetus, depicted to look like a fully formed baby.”
Spruch continued to say that while Planned Parenthood “respects artistic license and freedom”, these “false images only serve to reinforce misinformation and perpetuate stigma around sexual and reproductive health care”.
She continued: “Every pregnancy outcome – especially abortion – should be portrayed sensitively, authentically and accurately in the media. We still have much work to do to ensure that everyone who has an abortion can see themselves onscreen.
“It is a shame that the creators of Blonde chose to contribute to anti-abortion propaganda and stigmatise people’s healthcare decisions instead.”
Viewers at home have similarly condemned the film’s abortion scenes.
“Blonde is basically a three-hour anti-abortion ad disguised as a Marilyn Monroe biopic,” wrote one.
Another added that it gave them a “slight anti-abortion tone (they had a talking foetus commiserating with Marilyn and they over-glorified it”.
Someone else called it a “baffling piece of bad faith, anti-abortion nonsense”.
In an interview with The Wrap, director Dominik defended Blonde against the criticism, claiming that the scrutiny has arisen because the film was released so soon after the overturning of Roe v Wade.
“People are obviously concerned with losses of freedoms,” he said. “But, I mean, no one would have given a s*** 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’s sort of going on.”
The Independent has contacted a representative of Netflix for comment.
As well as the abortion scenes, one other moment in the film to cause controversy involves Marilyn performing a sex act on a character closely resembling JFK (the actor, Caspar Phillipson, also previously played the president in Jackie).
Many viewers have complained that the film is “unwatchable”, stating on social media that they were unable to make it more than 20 minutes into Blonde before abandoning it.