From The Journals Of Jean Seberg

on March 01, 1996 by Ed Scheid
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Combining film clips with a fictionalized diary to give a contemporary perspective on the American actress' life, "From the Journals of Jean Seberg" portrays Seberg (Mary Beth Hurt) giving shrewd and penetrating commentary on her past. At 17, Seberg won a nationwide search to play Joan of Arc for dictatorial director Otto Preminger; when the film flopped, she was a has-been at 19, but returned to fame two years later when Jean-Luc Godard cast her in "Breathless." Seberg married French writer/director Romain Gary and was later targeted by the FBI for her support of the Black Panthers. After several mental breakdowns and suicide attempts, she died at age 41.
   What makes this film fascinating is its insightful coverage of Seberg's life outlook. When she compares her career with that of fellow activists Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave, Seberg is slightly resentful of their survival and adaptability. She says she's "complicitous in my own degradation" by allowing herself to be sadistically used in her husband's films; showing clips of Brigitte Bardot and Fonda from films by Roger Vadim, Seberg says directors often use the women in their personal lives as sex objects for the audience. She notes other victims of the "curse" of playing Joan of Arc, and the faces of Barbra Streisand and Audrey Hepburn are superimposed onto her own to humorously speculate on how they would have played some of her parts. Writer/director Mark Rappaport, who made "Rock Hudson's Home Movies," has combined documentary, fiction and cinema history in a unique enterprise. Starring Mary Beth Hurt. Directed and written by Mark Rappaport. Produced by Couch Potato Prods; no distributor set. Documentary/drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 97 min.
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