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Beyoncé’s documentary diary

Courtney Cox | Sunday, February 17, 2013

 In the wake of her lights out Super Bowl Halftime Show, Beyoncé’s long awaited documentary “Life is but a Dream” premiered on HBO this Saturday. 

Directed by Beyoncé and her pet filmmaker Ed Burke, the film focused on the period between Beyoncé firing her father as a manager and becoming a mother for the first time. It was a testament both to her ideas of parenthood as well as her idea of music as an art form. 

The documentary opened with slow pans of suburban imagery as Beyoncé described her relationship with her father growing up. She was always searching for his approval but he never gave it to her and he pushed her to constantly be better. 

When she describes her decision to let go of her father as a manager she highlights the importance of family as her motivation. With such a stressful career all she wanted from her father was a support system, not another member of her team. 

When she decided to manage herself she said the biggest problem was deciding for the first time what she really wanted. 

It’s impossible to imagine a person becoming so commercially successful that they need to step back and change what success might actually mean in order to find fulfillment. 

Beyoncé needed to decide what kind of music she wanted to make now that she was in control of her path. 

One of the most entertaining parts of the documentary is the amount of footage that comes from Beyoncé herself. It’s as if they’ve taken a video diary she created herself and interlaced it with footage of her performing onstage and one interview of her relaxed and at home. 

She confesses that she’s obsessed with her computer and you can tell that at least 40 percent of the footage you see comes from her filming herself and the events of her life. 

There’s only one interview with her done by the filmmakers, but it’s essentially asking her to describe in more detail the things she already reveals in her home footage. She is forthcoming in a way that is almost jarring from a woman who seems completely untouchable. 

She discusses this phenomenon of celebrity as superwoman in the film as well. She talks about how we must assume that a celebrities life is perfect when all we see is an image on a gossip website but in reality she’s a vulnerable person just like everyone else. 

We get to see some of those vulnerable moments very clearly in the footage of Beyoncé talking openly about her first pregnancy that resulted in a miscarriage. She described hearing the heartbeat, picking out names and telling her family the good news only to be crushed when she found out she would not be a mother yet. 

The film does not dwell on the negative. We see her at her happiest when she’s talking about her pregnancy with Blue Ivy. She shows herself talking to her computer in the middle of the night when she feels nauseous just a week after discovering she is pregnant. 

We see her talk about the first time she felt the baby kick and how magical it was for her. She breaks out of the calm and collected image she has been holding for just a second to show how truly excited she is. 

We even see loving moments between her and her husband Jay-Z as they sit along the riverbank eating dinner and singing “Yellow” by Coldplay. 

The entire documentary is about how she balances the fast paced life of a performer and preparing for motherhood, but the most fascinating part isn’t any of that; it’s just watching Beyonce be the living Barbie doll we’ve all come to revere.