Vadim Rizov is a contributor to The Village Voice, The House Next Door and Nerve, and co-host of the Lichman and Rizov “Live” at Grassroots Tavern podcasts.
10 comments alsolikelife | --Video Essays, greatest films, greatest movies, video essay
As one of the directors and editors of Grey Gardens, I compliment you on your commentary…you really understood the way the story was built. It took us two years to work with material and figure out the structure. I have not read much that discusses it with the depth and level of perception that you do.
Some other reactions…
You are quite right that the film was structured without sticking to strict chronology…we were interested in revealing human truths, not chronological truths.
Regarding the Maysles’ appearances in the film – remember that they too were “structured” into the film. They are included at key points usually to make certain (albeit subtle) points. If the film was structured to gradually reveal an understanding of the Beale’s relationship, the presence of the Maysles played various roles for us in that unfolding. At times they were a third point in a kind of triangle that occurred when a third person was present (Big Edie, Little Edie and XXX)…sometimes Jerry was the third, sometimes it was Lois Wright (who was in the footage quite a bit, but only appeared in the film in the “birthday party” scene), and (in the past) Tom Logan, etc. These visitors were the catalysts for both arguments and performance; at times the Beales “played” to the Maysles, and at times the Beales interacted with each other through them (often using them to “push each other’s buttons”). Another thing that the presence of the Maysles showed us was the kind of flirtation that Edie had with men…we thought that the way Edie reacted to the Maysles (particularly David) was probably pretty much the way she acted with the other men who entered her life. Remember when Big Edie derides little Edie’s flirtations and tells the Maysles, “you are the safest men in America”! David occassionally wondered if Little Edie would leave Grey Gardens with the Maysles and come to NY…but for Ellen (Hovde) and I, there was never any question that her attachment to her mother was much too strong for that to ever be even a remote possibility.
My only gripe is that the titles within the clip only lists David and Albert Maysles…leaving off my name and Ellen’s…we were directors of the film along with the Maysles….and were also the editors (with Susan Froemke). Alas, this happens all too frequently.
When it came to the editing, neither Maysles participated in the structuring of the film, although David was interested in the editing process, understood its importance, and patiently watched many of our often torturously long) cuts over the course of the two years. Albert (and he will tell this to anyone who asks) has no interest at all in editing.
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Interesting essay can this be shared on other sites?
Not bad..But how can i get video essays of other popular? Please post about them in this blog..
What a useful post here. Very informative for me..TQ friends…
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I subscribed to your blog when is the next post
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urgh i was really moved by it…
Greatful this video
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