In 1975, David and Albert Maysles made one of the most captivating and haunting documentary films the world has ever seen, Grey Gardens. Many of us have never stopped thinking about the film, which depicts Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter, Little Edie, as they tumble into a crazed codependence while their Hamptons mansion literally crumbles around them. There have been clothing lines, cabaret shows, and, most recently, a Tony-winning play based on Grey Gardens. And, tomorrow night, HBO premieres its own remake of the cult documentary, starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore as the disturbed mother and daughter. Apparently, there will be plenty of value added: Instead of recreating the Maysles' documentary, HBO will probe the early lives of these women and even feature the Maysles brothers themselves as characters in the movie. I'll certainly be watching. But, might I suggest, that if you haven't already, you watch the original documentary. Here is an essay I wrote about Grey Gardens for TNR (for a feature we called "Lost and Found") a few years back that will hopefully inspire interest in this astonishing character study. Grey Gardens is portraiture, film, and art at their finest.
--Sacha Z. Scoblic
Images courtesy of HBO Films; Edward and Albert Maysles