On the surface, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story looks just like yet another fluffy Hollywood biography – all gloss, glam, substances and scandals. Yet, like Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr herself, there is much more to this than initially meets the eye. What follows is a powerful and inspiring story of overcoming adversity, and one that still resonates with the society we live in today.
Director Alexandra Dean delves deep into the life of Lamarr, detailing her early childhood and her first marriage to an Austrian Nazi arms merchant, neatly dovetailing into her escape to Britain, her travels to America and her subsequent rise to stardom in Hollywood. But as we’ve already mentioned, Bombshell isn’t content to simply stop there because Lamarr’s life went far beyond her film work and her status as the “world’s most beautiful woman”, which is something the film strives to uncover. Her dual life as an avid and accomplished inventor forms the major crux of the story, and provides the main focal point for this fascinating documentary.
Told through previously unheard interview clips, archive footage and revealing interviews with family, friends, biographers and historians, Lamarr’s story is equal parts inspiring and tragic. A victim of the Hollywood system and the Press’ stereotypical perception of her, she went largely unrecognized for her pioneering work, which played a major part in winning World War II and forms the basis for many of the everyday systems we take for granted today. The documentary redresses the balance, exploring every facet of her life and painting a positive picture of a remarkable individual who deserved much more praise and recognition then her Hollywood career ever afforded her.
Dean‘s film hits all the right notes, incorporating wonderful animation to fill in the gaps, thus presenting the full story in all its glory. It doesn’t hold back from the darker or sadder events that occurred, with frank and honest interviews detailing the misfortunes and flaws that befell Hedy, but the documentary makes it clear from the offset that Lamarr is an icon to be admired, not a name to be dragged through the mud. A strong message of hope and resilience carries throughout, certain to leave audiences inspired and in awe of the subject and her accomplishments long after credits roll.
A guaranteed feel-good film that goes in-depth into the life of a genuine hero, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is wonderfully energising and meaningful, going far beyond being just another Hollywood biopic. Hedy Lamarr herself would no doubt approve.