When headlines read chart topping, multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning Beyoncé was directing an autobiographical documentary, we braced ourselves for a ride of champagne-popping, couture-fittings, and yacht rides with Jay-Z. Now that the impending release of Life Is But A Dream has finally arrived, the 90-minute HBO special is anything but an ostentatious display of the glamourous life she leads—yes, it’s filled with cliché, but it actually delivers a human story.
Told through the lens of childhood home videos, first-person confessionals confided to her Macbook, and raw behind-the-scenes footage, Life Is But A Dream reveals an intimate portrait of Beyoncé at her most human moments. Pulling back the curtain on the superstar songstress, here are five revelations, if you will, from the vérité film:
The film is set in a context of independence. Beyoncé’s freedom from her father is a central theme that carries through and through, ultimately shaping the way she tells her story. The singer, once managed by dad Mathew Knowles, says setting parental boundaries was essential. But parting ways on the eve of her fourth solo album, 4, led to a sacrifice of their relationship. “I don’t care if I don’t sell one record. It’s bigger than the record. It’s bigger than my career,” she muses in the film.
Beyoncé and hubby Jay-Z are notorious for keeping the details of their relationship closely guarded. While the private duo’s four-year marriage still largely remains a secret—don’t expect wedding footage—candid scenes of backstage embraces and, well okay fine, rides on a yacht are more than has ever been captured by the media. A rare moment of the power-couple singing Coldplay’s “Yellow” speaks greater volumes about their deep love than Beyoncé can convey during her one-on-ones with the camera.
For the first time, Beyoncé discloses the intimate details of suffering a miscarriage, offering audiences a glimpse into how she coped in the studio. Beyoncé continues to strip away her flawless façade to reveal a very human side upon discovery of being “with child” yet again. Even as she fields widely reported rumours of feigning pregnancy with Blue Ivy, we’re spellbound by her modesty. “To think that I’d be that vain. I respect mothers and women so much. To be able to experience bringing a child into this world…there are certain things you just shouldn’t play around with, and a child, you don’t play around with that,” she says.
Alas, the moment we’ve all been waiting for finally arrives. Beyoncé throws down her microphone, whips open her tuxedo jacket and rubs her baby belly for millions of gawking eyes during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. And in keeping with fierce tradition, our first look at the precious face of her curly-haired offspring is revealed just as a crewmember ever so calculatingly moves out of frame. It feels as though the film was made to lead up to this very moment—an apropos display of motherhood in the spotlight. Mom gives daughter Blue Ivy one hell of an introduction to the world.
The truth is Beyoncé shows us only as much as she wants us to see. And we’re okay with that, because what’s the appeal in doting on celebrity—or anyone for that matter— without a little mystery? Beyoncé, the enigma and the human, leaves us wanting more.
A special episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter with Beyoncé will air this Saturday at 8 p.m. on the OWN Network, where the two will touch on just about everything that’s covered in the candour doc. Oprah, who made a surprise appearance at the premiere, praised Beyoncé for telling a no holds barred story: “I wouldn’t have been in the bedroom and in the closet and in the car and on vacation,” she said. Life Is But A Dream will premiere on HBO this Saturday at 9 p.m.