From documentary to drama: capturing Aileen Wuornos

Horeck, Tanya (2007) From documentary to drama: capturing Aileen Wuornos. Screen, 48 (2). pp. 141-159. ISSN 1460-2474

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This essay explores the cross-promotion between Nick Broomfield's documentary Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (UK, 2003) and Patty Jenkins' independent feature film Monster (USA, 2003), both of which profess to offer the ‘real’ story of Aileen Wuornos, the woman called America's ‘first female serial killer’. The debate among critics about whether it is the documentary or the drama that has the most to offer is staged as a contest between reality and fiction. A close examination of this debate, however, reveals the extent to which the categories of reality and fiction are in fact interwoven, with interpretation of both films reliant not only on how they relate to actuality but how they relate to each other. This essay considers how the two films trade in images of Wuornos as monstrous other, and how that trade is revealing about the perceived status and relationship between documentary and dramatizations of real life and the kind of work these forms of fact-based representation are seen to perform in public culture. Of particular interest is the tension between reality and performance, as revealed through the media focus on the actress Charlize Theron's transformation into Wuornos in Monster.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Aileen Wuornos
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Repository Admin
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2010 12:32
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 16:18

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