Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
The technology behind current secure wireless connections, such as wifi and Bluetooth, is called Frequency Hopping. It is a discontinuous transmission of a signal operated by switching among different frequency channels. The method would have allowed Allied torpedoes in the Second World War to finally hit their targets and not be stopped by the Nazi forces. More interesting, however, is the name of the first person who came out with this connectivity idea: Hedy Lamarr.
Because beauty and brains cannot coexist in the same female body, the glamorous actress went down in history only as a Hollywood icon, scandalous enfant terrible, whimsically independent woman. Bombshell, the new documentary by first-time director Alexandra Dean, traces the untold episodes of Hedy Lamarr’s life, starting with and working around a recently found all-revealing interview the star gave in 1990 to Forbes reporter Fleming Meeks. The result is a film that is as captivating as its subject.
Lamarr began her acting career in her Austrian homeland. Soon fleeing from a loveless marriage, the woman, who was of Jewish descent, got on the one-way ship to America, a trip organised by Louis B Mayer who was visiting Europe scouting talents at risk of Nazi persecution. In addition to great success in Hollywood, Lamarr developed the idea for Frequency Hopping with composer George Antheil, for which she received the patent. But it took years before the system would be deployed.
The documentary continuously utilises the many photos highlighting the actress’s beauty and her perfect lineaments, alternating these images with clips from famous movies she starred in. Through the words of the interviewees, this woman’s unacknowledged intelligence comes to light. Hearing the real voice of the star on tape adds a unique element, making this film a real bombshell. The archive footage enchants the viewer as they experience the visual presence of this diva, without the distractions of too many contemporary shots. Dean’s editing of her materials and the more intimate memories we hear peel off the layers of prejudice against physical beauty, as the true value of the feminine world is revealed.
Talking to the camera are not only Lamarr’s family, friends and experts, but also writer Mel Brooks and Google Animator Jennifer Hom. The documentary is not exclusively celebratory, as the shortcomings and the scandals of the glamour icon are part of the narrative. What transpires, though, is that we see how pioneering and ahead of her time this woman was. In an age for gorgeous ladies to be accessories for men, she reclaimed an independent and free life.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is released nationwide on 9th March 2018.
Watch the trailer for Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story here: