I came across this amazing online interview with Jane Fonda, in conjunction with the release of Jane Fonda in Five Acts —a new documentary on her truly unconventional life. While I’m yet to see it (it’s not out here yet) her larger-than-life stories compelled me to jump the gun after coming across this amazing quote by John Powers on NPR’s Fresh Air:
"What made her trajectory breathtaking was how perfectly her personal U-turns meshed with the ever shifting zeitgeist. The nice-girl Jane of the bottled-up '50s became a sex bomb in the swinging '60s, a political activist in the radical '70s and a tycoon's wife in the era of greed is good."
When you start to pay attention to the little details, you can’t help chuckling at Fonda’s chameleon-like ability to mold herself into the fad of the day. Even more remarkable is the fact that her choices don’t come off as pre-meditated but instead are emblematic of a woman who always managed to find herself front and centre of the latest cultural paradigm.
What is particularly exceptional about her life is that she lived it out in the open from start to finish, celebrating and commiserating in the public eye. At the height of her success, she was celebrated for her talents on the silver screen and deeply despised for boldly mocking the patriarchy with her ‘Hanoi Jane’ antics.
The documentary is broken up into five separate acts with the first four representing the men in her life that shaped her continual ascent. Henry Fonda (her superstar father), Roger Vadim (the French auteur), Tom Hayden (the brash grassroots politico) & finally Ted Turner (the billionaire magnate).
The final act is self-titled, in acknowledgment of her personal awakening after leaving her third and final husband in her sixties. She describes herself as someone that has woken up to the fact that she is finally comfortable in her own skin — warts and all. The quote below channels this newfound direction, a sensibility that speaks to my newfound modus operandi these days:
We’re supposed to be whole. I used to be bothered by the fact that in the Bible, in the Book of Matthew, Jesus is quoted as saying to his disciples, “You must be perfect, as our Father is perfect.” But it’s a mistranslation of the Aramaic. What he really said is, “You must be whole, as our Father is whole.” What does it mean? It means your oars are in the water. You’re steering your craft, against the tide, trying to be what you were meant to be before you die. So when you get to the end, you know you did your best.