Many days, I have listened to the soulful tune of Nina Simone. Nina Simone the musical legend. Nina Simone the activist. This past Friday, I FINALLY got the chance to catch the documentary titled What Happened, Miss Simone. For several months I had been urged to watch the film on Netflix. However, I never had the time to fully dedicate my attention to the documentary until this weekend.
A new fan of her work, I was very interested to learn more about her. Like many people my age, I had heard her name and a few songs or two but it wasn’t until this past spring that I really began to dive into her music and learn more about her.
What happened, Miss Simone, is a beautifully put together documentary about Nina. The film was composed of interviews from Nina and those who knew her, as well as, pictures and journal entries. It was a perfect dive into the mind of young Nina Simone. The film brought attention to the loneliness of many gifted artists and the struggle to face reality and their creativity.
More than learning about the ingenious of Nina Simone and what made her tick creatively. The film discussed in detail the symptoms of mental illness. Nina Simone was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and had battles with depression her entire life. In the film, it was said that people had notice her mood changes and sometimes erratic behavior but it wasn’t until later in life that an actual diagnoses was made. The black community even now has difficulty acknowledging mental illness and the seriousness of it. It is still a taboo subject that is often ignored or downplayed. The film does well to acknowledge he illness without discrediting her as an artist or activist. There are some who have stated that, male artist are rarely menaced with the state of the minds after passing. I find this to be true, however, the need to discuss mental illness in the black community was outweighed this point for me.
This documentary is well worth the time. It gives a glimpse into who Nina was in her own words and through the words of those who experienced her. It also brought much needed attention to mental illness and how to deal with those who are affected by it.
If you have seen the film, what are your thoughts on it?