Saturday, April 18, 2009

Grey Gardens tonight!

One day I was reading up on Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and there was a small story about some impoverished relatives, the Bouvier Beales. Upon further research, I found out that a documentary was done in 1975 by Albert and David Maysles about the Bouvier Beales at Grey Gardens and that there would eventually be a movie with Drew Barrymore playing "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale.
So, my mother and I got the orignal documentary. Although hard to watch at times due to there being no real subject matter; simply a cameraman recording the Beales day-to-day activities in their reclusive Grey Gardens, I was absolutely captivated by the dynamic relationship between Big and Little Edie. I couldn't help but be repelled and drawn in by their conversations, their conspiratorial asides, their eating habits, Little Edie's dances, Big Edie's singing and all this amongst irrefutable squalor.
Overrun by feral cats, garbage and a house that was literally falling down about them, I could not believe this was the aunt and cousin to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, a woman known universally for her style, intelligence, and more importantly, her wealth due to her marriage to Aristotle Onassis. She was only compelled after the poor publicity (the National Enquirer ran an expose on the deplorable conditions in which the Bouvier Beales lived) to donate $32,000 to Grey Gardens in order to clean the house, install a new furnace and plumbing system, and cart away 1,000 bags of garbage.
Ironically, Lee Radziwill, Jackie's sister, first discussed creating a documentary with Albert and David Maysles about Jacqueline Kennedy's girlhood in East Hampton. But when Lee Radziwill took them on a visit to Grey Gardens the Maysles decided that the Bouvier Beales would make better subjects for their film. So, they quickly edited the footage they caught of the Bouvier Beales and showed it to Radziwill, who balked and ultimately confiscated the film. This however, did not stop the Maysles who returned to Grey Gardens and payed the Bouvier Beales $5000 each to document their daily lives. Thus, the masterpiece of Grey Gardens. I highly suggest you take a gander.

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