Extra Grey Gardens Footage! Oh darling you MUST understand how much I ABSOLUTELY love this…
The documentary Grey Gardens captivates me. If you haven’t seen or heard about it you must get a hold of the DVD or better yet, watch it on Netflix on instant play. Shot in 1975, the movie captures “Big” Edie Beale and her daughter “Little” Edie who are related to Jackie Onassis.
Big Edie and Little Edie were once American aristocrats who lived with each other in an East Hampton mansion for decades. Soon after Big Edie divorced her husband, the house fell into disrepair as they lost their funds to maintain their estate. The first documentary shows footage of the Beales in their disheveled mansion in the 1970’s living with multiple cats, fleas, and raccoons. The documentary does an amazing job of capturing the lives of these extraordinary two women who have isolated themselves from the rest of the world and refused to succumb to the traditional roles of women in society when they were younger. They were truly pioneers in the feminist movement.
Scene from the original Grey Gardens: “Best costume for the day…”
Due to the documentary’s increased popularity after a musical and talk of an HBO movie about their lives, one of the original filmmakers compiled some extra footage in 2006 called The Beales of Grey Gardens. It gives the viewer a bit more of what they want to see: more of Little Edie’s fashions, stories, and more music (something Little Edie thought was lacking in the first documentary). The footage is definitely more raw. You watch as the camera man struggles to find focus and keep the camera steady. But this makes the footage seem even more like a true gem.
There’s a great clip of Little Edie greeting the filmmakers at the door screaming, “the house is on fire and I don’t know where it is!” The camera stays on the action as Little Eddie tries to put out the fire with a blanket.
Another one of my favorite clips takes place on a porch outside. Little Edie is dressed in red laying in the sun. She picks up some carnation milk and cereal and opens the screen door to go inside and tells the camera man about how her days of impressing men are over:
Brilliant. If you loved the first documentary, this is definitely more candy for you. After watching this there is no question about how this documentary inspired so many future filmmakers, designers, feminists, and sentimental gays. Why is it so captivating and inspiring? It’s a story about love: between a mother and a daughter, of music, dance, the ocean. It’s a story of unrequited love: for relationships and careers that could have been. There is some tragedy here but with it comes all the things that makes us human: anger, grace, laughter, surrender, and acceptance.
After the movie was released, a reporter called Big Edie to see if she had any comment. She simply said “it’s all in the movie.” And it is.
A clip from The Beales of Grey Gardens: