Can Netflix’s new documentary on the tragic life of Anna Nicole Smith reclaim her narrative?

Anna Nicole Smith is the latest celebrity to have her tragic life analysed in an upcoming Netflix documentary.

2021 was the year of the controversial celebrity documentary. Despite plenty of buzz, both What Happened, Brittany Murphy? and Britney Vs. Spears received mixed receptions due to their presentation of two vulnerable women at the centre of media storms.

Later in the year, Alanis Morrisette accused the makers of the HBO documentary about her of having a “salacious agenda” andMalfunction: The Dressing Down Of Janet Jackson gave more air time to the events of the 2004 Superbowl that led to Jackson being blacklisted from the music industry.

Though some argued that they gave important air time to issues such as sexism, drug abuse and coercive control, others suggested that they merely highlighted how women in the public eye have been exploited for far too long.

And indeed, it seems the appetite for uncovering celebrity scandal hasn’t been satiated for 2022.

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Netflix has announced an as yet untitled “revelatory” feature-length documentary about Anna Nicole Smith, featuring never before seen footage of the iconic Playboy and Guess jeans model, who blazed a trail through the 90s before her tragic death at the age of 39.

Directed by Ursula Macfarlane (The Lost Sons, Untouchable), the documentary claims to finally “bring Anna Nicole’s own voice to the foreground,” with the film including never before seen footage from an unreleased documentary about a young Smith balancing motherhood while on the verge of global stardom.

“Bringing surprising revelations to the story of an icon, the film will include testimony from those who knew Anna Nicole best when the cameras weren’t rolling – many of whom have never shared their full story until now,” the streamer teased in an official announcement.

Smith gained notoriety as a Playmate and model, setting off a media firestorm after marrying 89-year-old oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II aged 26. 

Anna Nicole Smith’s life was spent in the public eye throughout the 2000s

Throughout the 2000s, Smith’s life provided ceaseless tabloid fodder, including the public battle for her late husband’s estate, drug addiction, paternity lawsuits and her first child’s untimely death. She died in a Florida hotel room in 2007 after accidentally overdosing on prescription drugs.

“I approached Anna Nicole’s story as an epic mystery tale. How did someone with so much charisma and jaw-dropping beauty, with the world at her feet, fall so far, so quickly? Now feels like the right time to re-examine the life of yet another beautiful young woman whose life has been picked over and ultimately destroyed by our culture,” said director Macfarlane about the project.

“I am thrilled to work with Netflix and Propagate to make a moving, unflinching and sensitive portrayal of one of the most misunderstood women of our time.”

The documentary is still in production, so it’s unclear yet when it will be available to stream, but a 2022 release date can be expected.

Images: Getty

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