Documentary Review: HBO’s ‘Regarding Susan Sontag’ Is An Inspiring Tale And Airs Tonight

‘Regarding Susan Sontag’ is an intimate look at one the most important and prolific feminist and political thinkers of the last century. During her productive career Susan Sontag wrote and spoke out about such controversial topics as the Vietnam War, AIDS, human rights, and communism. While often contentious she was without question one of the most important social commentators of her generation.

This documentary beautifully intermixes Sontag’s life story with the subjects that she spent so much of her life working for and writing about. While she spent so much time writing and speaking her personal life was itself largely kept private. This film offers a chance to see the person behind the persona and to develop a stronger understanding of what drove Sontag in her pursuits.

Technically speaking the set-up is pretty boilerplate as the film unfolds around beautiful imagery (both film footage and archived photographs) as interviews with her friends, family, and other acquaintances progress the story along. The complex web woven throughout the documentary does not always lend itself to a straightforward narrative understanding, however. In order to truly get at the overarching story that is being told throughout the film one must actively watch and attempt to piece certain elements together that are scattered throughout.

This is the quintessential examination and telling of the story of a great icon, who twenty years removed from her passing many people have heard of but an unfortunate number don’t know too much about. It is an inspiring tale about living life on your own terms and fighting against the mainstream. ‘Regarding Susan Sontag’ is an interesting and complex look at a similarly interesting and complex individual.

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