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No synopsis for Grey Gardens.
For more about Grey Gardens and the Grey Gardens Blu-ray release, see the Grey Gardens Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on December 10, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles
» See full cast & crew
Grey Gardens Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 10, 2013
Screened at the Chicago International Film Festival, "Grey Gardens" (1975) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include the 2006 sequel "The Beales of Grey Gardens"; original trailer for the film; audio commentary with the filmmakers; excerpts from an archival audio interview with Little Eddie; audio interviews with designers Todd Oldham and John Bartlett; and more. The release also arrives with a leaflet featuring Hilton Als' essay "Staunch Characters". In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
The two women frequently argue. Occasionally, the intense screaming disturbs the cats around them and they quickly leave the room. When the women eventually calm down, one by one the cats quietly return.
The camera follows closely 56-year-old Little Edie as she wanders around the big house. Most of the time she smiles and seems genuinely excited to show the filmmakers her latest outfit. The colors are often bright, demanding attention. The headscarves are always stylish. When she wears shoes, they also compliment her outfits.
Little Edie's mother, Big Edie, once a popular classical singer, spends most of her time in her filthy bed. Occasionally, she sings her favorite songs. This is when Little Edie likes to remind Big Edie - quite possibly to annoy her - that her husband left her for a younger woman. Little Edie would also mention the names of other men, some of them wealthy celebrities, whom Big Edie could not keep.
Old photographs are frequently examined. The beauty the two women see on them warms up their hearts. But the photographs remind Little Edie that she also could have married if her mother would have approved at least one of the young men she brought home years ago. When Little Eddie utters their names, her voice always shakes with emotion.
A young boy occasionally visits the house. Little Edie pretends that he is an admirer, but the boy looks either confused or flat-out intimidated when she comes close to him. He rarely speaks. When the boy eventually leaves Little Edie tells Big Edie that she knows exactly what is on his mind.
Meanwhile, another young boy routinely delivers large boxes full of groceries. But he never rings the bell, possibly because he was never offered a tip. A rather large skunk living somewhere in the attic also makes multiple appearances.
The strength of this cult documentary film directed by Albert and David Maysles, and co-directed by Muffie Meyer and Ellen Hovde, is its ability to observe the absurd with respect. The alternative easily could have been an exploitative film in which the two women are simply treated as exotic objects and eventually encouraged to self-destruct in front of the camera. (And this could have been quite easy to do).
The endless arguing, however, quickly becomes depressing. The more time the viewer spends with the two women, the clearer it becomes that their lives are devoid of just about everything that would make them worth living. The big house is their fortress, a place where they can hide and be themselves, but also their prison. The women know it. And when they occasionally remind each other that they have lost their freedom, one can't help but feel sorry for them.
Ultimately, Grey Gardens could be a fascinating experience for those who have a soft spot for extravagant characters. With the right mindset, some viewers will discover plenty of humor in it. But there will also be many viewers who will find the two women's ghostly existence almost unbearably depressing.
Note: In 2010, Grey Gardens was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Grey Gardens Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Grey Gardens arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the leaflet provided with this Blu-ray release:
"This new 2K digital restoration was undertaken in partnership with the Academy Film Archive at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The original 16mm A/B camera negative, held in the Academy's collection, was used to create two separate 2K scans, of the A and B rolls, on a Lasergraphics film scanner. These were then assembled into a final master using the existing 35mm blowup color reversal internegative (CRI) as a reference. In addition, a handful of shots in the final master were replaced from the CRI. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, and jitter were manually removed using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean, while Digital Vision's Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, noise management, and flicker.
Transfer supervisors: Lee Kline, Albert Maysles.
Scanning: John Rizzo/Metropolis Post, New York.
Colorist: Jason Crump/Metropolis Post, New York.
Sound remastering: John Polito/Audio Mechanics, Burbank, CA."
The new high-definition transfer is beautiful. Despite the different shooting conditions -- there are portions of the film where light is severely restricted as well as close-ups with plenty of camera movement -- detail and clarity are fantastic. Contrast levels fluctuate, but sharpness never suffers. Color reproduction is outstanding. There is an excellent range of very well saturated and always natural reds, browns, greens, blues, greys, and blacks. Furthermore, there are absolutely no traces of problematic degraining corrections. Sharpening adjustments have not been applied either. Overall image stability is outstanding. Also, debris, scratches, stains, damage marks, and cuts have been carefully removed. All in all, this is a very strong organic presentation of Grey Gardens which will likely remain the film's definitive presentation on the home video market. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Grey Gardens Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: English LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
Newly restored, the film's original audio impresses with very good depth and truly solid clarity. The improvements are indeed quite substantial because during a number of sequences where Little Edie and her other mother argue it is now quite easy to focus on the words that are being uttered. Rather predictably, the overall dynamic intensity is limited, but such is the film's original sound design. For the record, there are absolutely no cracks, pops, problematic background hiss, audio dropouts, or distortions to report in this review.
Grey Gardens Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Grey Gardens Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If Grey Gardens happens to be one of your favorite films, do not hesitate to add Criterion's new Blu-ray release to your collection. Digitally restored in 2K, the film looks simply spectacular in high-definition. All of the supplemental features from Criterion's 2001 DVD release are also included on the Blu-ray. If you have not seen Grey Gardens before, my advice to you is to find a way to rent it first.
Grey Gardens Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: December 10-17 - December 8, 2013
For the week of December 10th, Universal Studios Home Entertainment is bringing Fast & Furious 6 to Blu-ray. Other titles include the Disney classic Mary Poppins, Volume Eight of Futurama, Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt, Keanu Reeves' Man of Tai Chi, the sprawling ...
• Criterion Announces December Titles - September 16, 2013
The Criterion Collection has announced nine titles for Blu-ray release in December: On December 3rd, the studio will release Elio Petri's Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970) and Robert Altman's Nashville (1975). On December 10, the studio will release ...
Grey Gardens Blu-ray Screenshots
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