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Grey Gardens (The Criterion Collection)

4.7 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Edith Bouvier Beale, Edith 'Little Edie' Bouvier Beale, Brooks Hyers, Norman Vincent Peale, Jack Helmuth
  • Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer
  • Producers: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Susan Froemke
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Special Edition, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Oct. 1 2002
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00005KHJX
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #24,017 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

Meet Big and Little Edie Beale-high society dropouts, mother and daughter, reclusive cousins of Jackie O.-thriving together amid the decay and disorder of their ramshackle East Hampton mansion. Five years after Gimme Shelter, the Maysles unveiled this impossibly intimate portrait of the unexpected, an eerie echo of the Kennedy Camelot, which has since become a cult classic and established Little Edie as fashion icon and philosopher queen.

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Grey Gardens is the name of a neglected, sprawling estate gone to seed. The crumbling mansion was home to Edith Bouvier Beale, often referred to as "Big Edie," and her daughter, "Little Edie." The East Hampton, Long Island, home became the center of quite a scandal when it was revealed in 1973 that the reclusive aunt and cousin to Jackie O. were living in a state of poverty and filth. That's the background to this 1976 film portrait by cinéma vérité pioneers Albert and David Maysles, but it's only incidental to the fascinating story they discover inside the estate walls.

The two Edies have lived in almost complete seclusion since the mid-1950s, ever since Big Edie's husband abandoned her and Little Edie (then a young socialite on the verge of a dancing career, or so she claims) was called home to care for her depressed mother. Twenty years later they continue to live in their memories while camped out in a single bedroom of the 28-room mansion overrun with cats (who use the floor as their litter box). Rehashing mistakes and missed chances with an accusing banter that becomes more stinging and angry as the documentary progresses, they exist in a sad codependency brings new meaning to the term dysfunctional. Disturbing and discomforting, it comes off like a freak show at times, but for all their arguments and recriminations, the Maysles reveal two women abandoned by their families who are left to cling to each other, for better or worse. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Once you see this film you are hooked. It's as if Little Edie and Big Edie take over your senses. Perhaps one of the oddest films I've ever seen. Intially I didn't even know what to think..truly a bizarre slice of life these two women. It should not be missed.
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Format: DVD
These women were mesmerizing to observe. What a life.
The Maysles captured an amazing story.
Beautiful young Edie, lost in her own world. Big Edie trying to maintain her dreams. Together what a study of mother/daughter devotion.
You must purchase the movie with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. These talented actresses portrayed these American high breds so perfectly through their rise and fall from debutante balls to pitiful social decay. Bravo
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By KaseyG TOP 500 REVIEWER on Dec 6 2015
Format: Blu-ray
Decades before HOARDERS and the Kardashians and the cesspool of Reality TV, GREY GARDENS took an intimate look at the daily lives of two fallen women of former aristocracy: Big Edie and Little Edie Beale in this trainwreck of a documentary that shows their hilarious yet tragic co-dependency among filthy living conditions in a dilapidated mansion.

I can't say this warrants repeat viewings but once it's on you cannot stop watching. The funniest bits are the small trivial moments that demonstrate the ladies' bizarre attitudes toward everyday life like when guests arrive for a birthday party and Big Edie remarks that the dining room chairs are dirty, Little Edie simply lines them all with newspapers! Later she is seen ripping open bags of Wonder Bread to scatter in the attic for the hungry raccoons. And when a black cat is seen defecating behind a vintage oil painting of Mama Beale, she just shrugs it off and says she feels honored! Little Edie's presumable hair loss is covered by her resourceful use of various scarves, towels, sweaters and flags as fashionable headwear and her favorite outfit of choice seems to be a 1940s styled leopard print bathing suit paired with well-worn white dancing heels. Mama also favors strapless swimwear but hers succumbs to gravity at the most inopportune moments.

Both of these women are clearly off their rockers yet the picture doesn't really seem as exploitive as it could have been. Still, worth a look for fans of offbeat cinema.
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Format: DVD
Happened to catch this on the IFC when first released...was absolutely riveted!!! I think it holds even more meaning if you are a female.......I made my mother watch it and we could not believe the similarities altho we are not like the Beale family. (I do get out..I am a flight attendant) But my mother and I are extremely close and the "dance" those two do are strikingly familiar to us....to me what is most apparent at first glance is the despiration Edie feels about leaving, she reminds me of a person that is incarcerated..time stops for them..in their emotional, mental growth. Then it makes me angry that Big Edie could ever be so selfish as to just "take" her daughters life from her..was it out of jealousy?Was it truly out of need? Did she just give up after her husband left her? You almost feel that it was all meant to be tho, especially from the way Big Edie describes her sons, she saw them so differently than she saw Edie. And then,times were so different for women back then.Excellant movie,I am sure the Kennedy and Bouvier Families were mortified!!! But we love them!!! It would be wonderful to see such individuality in everyone!
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Format: DVD
The old woman (Big Edie) and the her elder daughter (Little Edie), both confined to a large, old, decrept home, focused on lost memories and events that never happened.
Little Edie is largely focused on her youth, wishing that she had taken up opportunities in the past that she turned down. Her mother, Big Edie, tells her daughter that her regret over not doing things in the past is meaningless because back then, Little Edie genuinely did not want to do those things. That is perhaps one of the most philosophical moments in the documentary.
This film is very revealing, and it is a truly intimate portrayal of two women. You learn more about then perhaps than you otherwise would in a typical documentary that asks why they are important, what is their significance to their rich and well-known relative, Jackie O, and how did they end up in this situation.
This movie will be implanted in the public persona for many years to come, particularly because of the radical fashion sense of Little Edie, and also because she demonstrates that people do change their behavior, if even slightly, once a camera is nearby.
Michael Gordon
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Format: VHS Tape
Personal tragedy, extreme eccentricity and isolation are the ties that bind an elderly mother and her aging daughter to their decrepit estate in the Hamptons. Edith Bouvier (the daughter) is first cousin to Jackie Bouvier aka Jackie Kennedy but something bad has happened to this side of the pedigree. The money seems to have run out, the house in sympathy with the general state of affairs is in rapid decline and taking the grounds with it. The women, ostracized by the Hampton elite, must feed off each other for companionship telling the same stories, expressing the same pain over and over - until that is the film crew shows up. Edith (a woman in her 60's) begins to blossom, flirt and dance with and for the camera. Having a fresh audience Edith, inbetween costume changes, coyly tells the camera her family secrets. While the mother, also named Edith, lays in bed with her numerous cats and tells a different tale. Rather then take you out of their world the camera crew acts as a liaison between the cloistral world of mother and daughter. Grey Gardens is the reason I love documentary film making - for the pure voyeuristic pleasure of people watching.
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