I'm excited, for sure. But once again, as the first time I saw the original documentary from 1976, I'm a bit sad and melancholic. The whole story of Grey Gardens makes me feel melancholic indeed.
For the two or three of you who don't know what I'm talking about, the documentary called Grey Gardens is a "non fiction-features" by the Maysles brothers.
Shot in six week in the mid seventies, it depicts the everyday life of Edith "Big Edie" Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale, respectively the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. As high society drops out, the two women chose to live together at Grey Gardens, their now decadent, almost decrepit mansion of East Hampton (the home had been purchased for Big Edie in 1923, when it still had one of the finest gardens on the East Coast), in total squalor and almost total isolation.
The Maysles movie became a cult and during the 70s, when the inspectors from Health Department raided the house and discovered that it violated every known regulation, saying they would evict the women unless the house was cleaned, the whole story of Jackie O's relatives became a national scandal. This "forced" Jackie herself to came to the rescue, saving the Edies from the eviction order and the whole family from any further embarassment...
Big Edie died in 1977 and the house was sold by Little Edie in 1979. She moved to Florida and lived there since 2002, when she too died, alone.
The story of Big and Little Edie became a musical and now, in 2009, a - judging by trailers - really glamorous tv movie featuring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore.
Grey Gardens has been completely restored by the new owners.
What was once a grand summer residence has been reduced to a fortress of fleas, feral cats, and filth, the gardens long gone to seed and Big Edie and Little Edie confined to just a few of the twenty-eight rooms.
Together they invent a world with their house as a stage where life’s disappointments and pleasures are recycled into riveting performances.
(from here )
Certain stories are fascinating, appealing yet disturbing and this is surely one of them. Looking at the movie(s), the pictures and all the Grey Gardens paraphernalia, I really feel like an intruder. There's something "wrong" in watching them, something "immoral" in declaring your appreciation. Maybe it's only me and it is due to the fact that I grew up in an ancient mansion which in a certain way reminds me of Grey Gardens: full of history, stories and disappointed expectations. But for me it's a really strong feeling!
Below are the trailers of the Maysles brothers documentary and of HBO movie. This last one use the documentry as a framework, focusing on the lives of the Edies long before their late days at Grey Gradens. A new point of view on the story.
Hope to hear your comments about this new version soon...
EDIT: you may also take a look at the revamped Grey Gardens Online website :-)