Betty Tells Her Story was one of the earliest films of the modern Women's Movement - and it has become one of the most enduring. Made in 1972, it was one of the first to explore women's identity, image and clothing in our culture.
It is the delightful saga of Betty's search for "the perfect dress"- how she found just the right one, felt absolutely transformed, and never got to wear it. In this unconventional documentary, Betty tells her story - twice. Although the facts remain the same, the contrast between the two stories is haunting.
Betty Tells Her Story is, in my opinion, a masterpiece...It is impossible to imagine any woman over 12 not relating to the film. Its emotional impact is overwhelming...
The story Betty tells is a simple one. She needed "the perfect dress" for a very special occasion. Betty describes in amusing detail how she found just the right one, spent more than she could afford for it, modeled it for admiring friends, felt absolutely transformed and then...never got to wear it. The story and Betty are witty, engaging and delightful.
Then Betty is asked to tell her story again. This time the story is strikingly different. While the facts remain the same, Betty reveals how she really felt: her anxiety over buying the dress, her discomfort at being praised for beauty she feels she doesn't have, and her subsequent bewilderment at the way things turn out. Betty becomes withdrawn, sad and vulnerable, and her voice, body and words express the painfulness of the memory. The contrast between the two stories is haunting.
Our culture's emphasis on female "beauty" underscores the poignant saga of Betty's search for "the perfect dress". The film is as meaningful and moving today as it was when it was made.
Betty Tells Her Story was restored with a grant from NYWIFT's Women's Film Preservation Fund. The restored version was recently featured at the Museum of Modern Art in NY.
Brandon is to be congratulated... this is a film about human beings - how they talk and feel, hide and reveal, and hurt.
Seldom in a film does the warmth and the human spirit of an individual come across as it happens here; seldom does a person reveal herself so honestly and openly.
This classic study of the tyranny of the beauty ideal is perhaps more relevant today than ever before. Brandon's film tells a story that is funny, moving, and powerfully illuminating.
The warmth, sincerity and beauty of Betty will live with this viewer for a very long time. Highly recommended for public library collections. An excellent discussion film.