Introduction to the film by Nairy Baghramian and Silke Baumann
Grey Gardens (1975)
Directors: David & Albert Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer, Susan Froemke
Original English version
The documentary film Grey Gardens provides fascinating insight into the bizarre life of mother and daughter Bouvier-Beale, close relatives of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Mother Edith (79) and daughter Edie (56) live together, with a number of cats and raccoons, in their once grand but meantime dilapidated holiday home in East Hampton. Embroiled in a state of mutual dependency, they celebrate their deeply felt love-hate relationship. These eccentric personalities, mother ‘Big Edie’, a former pop singer, and daughter ‘Little Edie’, a former model and dancer, cling desperately to their glamorous past and, against the backdrop of their tumbledown villa, present themselves for what they are: loveable ageing divas.
The film is a humorously drawn portrait of the two women, personal and respectful, and in no way subjecting them to ridicule. In fact, it unleashed a veritable cult of the ‘Edies’. In 2007, the documentary is to be made into a feature film, with Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore in the main roles. ‘Little Edie’ in particular, self-proclaimed fashion designer and philosopher of the everyday, who in Grey Gardens presents her striking ‘costumes for the day’, inspired numerous designers and musicians. Photographer Steven Meisel, for example, published a series of pictures in the Italian Vogue in 1999 showing models dressed in the typical revolutionary ‘Little Edie’ style.