Montauk, East Hampton, New York, 2016. Peter Beard discusses his work as a photographer, artist and diarist before reminiscing about his attempt to make a documentary in the summer of 1972 ... See full summary »
A documentary that records the darkly humorous sequence of events leading up to a seance to manifest Big Edith Bouvier Beale and Little Edie Bouvier Beale so they can attend a celebration ... See full summary »
The Maysles brothers pay visits to Edith Bouvier Beale, nearing 80, and her daughter Edie. Reclusive, the pair live with cats and raccoons in Grey Gardens, a crumbling mansion in East Hampton. Edith is dry and quick-witted - a singer, married but later separated, a member of high society. Edie is voluble, dresses - as she puts it - for combat in tight ensembles that include scarves wrapped around her head. There are hints that Edie came home 24 years before to be cared for rather than to care for her mother. The women address the camera, talking over each other, moving from the present to events years before. They're odd, with flinty affection for each other.Written by
She was the girl who had everything - Money, good looks and social position. her mother - a classic Bouvier beauty. Now they are living amongst the souvenirs of their lives. In Grey Gardens. This is their story. A love story. Sort of. Hailed as one of the oddest, most beautiful films ever.
In the film, it appears as though Lois Wright only gave a box to Edith Bouvier Beale for her birthday. However, she also gave Edith the sign that reads, "The Great Singer, Big Edith Bouvier Beale". See more »
When it first came out, this work by the Meysels brothers was much criticized and even judged to be exploitation. Luckily, it is now hailed as a masterpiece of documentary cinema, especially now that society has been exposed to real exploitation in what is reality television, and the bad evolution of most direct cinema.
Really, at first, we must say that this isn't really direct cinema, it is more cinema verité. The difference between the two is very slight, but it mainly is the fact that in this documentary, we are made to feel the presence of the Meysels brothers, and they do interact with the characters filmed. This as well makes it clear that it is not exploitation. The Meysels have been allowed in the house, and they are included in what is a very eccentric situation of a very eccentric household. And both Edith and Edie just love the idea of being filmed.
It would have been very disappointing had very been shown only a voice of God narration and shallow interviews. Here, we are given a full portrait of the madness of the house, a madness that does seem to go down well with both Edie and her mother Edith. Their house is a mess, litter and animals everywhere, faded colors and furniture all over the house, and the constant fights that are constant interactions of reality. These two people have lived with each other their whole life, and are not fighting in front of the camera because they want the attention, but rather because they can't help talking to each other this way. They know each other too well to hide their inner feelings, there is no need. In the end, though, even as they blame each other for their lives, they really love each other deeply. Edie says she doesn't want her mother to die, because she loves her very much, and Edith says that she doesn't want Edie to leave her because she doesn't want to be alone.
But the most interesting aspect of the film is that regardless of their old age, the two women can't help be girls. They cannot help being one the singer, the other the dancer. Exhibit all their artistic skills in front of their camera. When Edie asks David Meysels rhetorically "Where have you been all my life?" she is really very happy that she finally gets to show the whole world herself and her wonderful showgirls skills. A beautiful portrait of stylistic importance and a charm that is highly unlikely to be ever seen again, the way only the Meysels and few others could do.
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