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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Grace of Monaco caught in controversy: Kelly's children term biopic a 'farce'

Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times  Chennai, May 03, 2014
First Published: 13:53 IST(3/5/2014) | Last Updated: 18:46 IST(12/5/2014)

Grace Kelly is not going to be amused by all that muck which is being thrown around in her name. French director Olivier Dahan's biopic on the Hollywood diva, Grace of Monaco -- who stepped away from the dazzling allure of arc lamps and flash bulbs to slip into the relative anonymity of the Rainier Palace - has been weathering one tempest after another.

The latest - which Indian's cinema producers, directors and actors will look at with perhaps a sense of mistaken empathy - involves Princess Grace's family. Her children, Prince Albert II and Princesses Caroline and Stephanie, were displeased with Dahan's work starring Nicole Kidman. They felt that it did not accurately portray their mother's life.

In a statement, the royal siblings said the film appeared to be a "farce" that bore no relation to reality and was based on "erroneous and dubious historical references".

It added the royal family does not wish to be associated with the film that reflects no reality and regrets that its history has been misappropriated for commercial purposes.

This view - justified or not - will sound familiar in India, given that in recent times, several movies have faced roadblocks, because some group or the other was unhappy with them. Viswaroopam, Inam and Tenaliraman are a few examples.



Now, with Grace of Monaco all set to roll the Cannes Film Festival on May 14, I am sure the organisers may be a little tense. But I suppose that the Monaco royals are not going to take out a morcha or move a court of law to stop the movie from being screened.

However, Dahan is clearly peeved,   though not quite with the royal displeasure as he is with the American distributor Harvey Weinstein's decision to re-edit Grace of Monaco.

"The movie that I am in the process of finishing is complicated to finalise although actually for me it is finished," Dahan said in an interview with French newspaper, Liberation, some time ago, when Weinstein announced the re-edit.

"What's complicated at the moment is ensuring that you, the critics, can review my version of the film and not that of somebody else".

Weinstein is known for cutting its acquisitions to suit American audiences. And going by media reports, this has now been done. There are two versions of the Nicole Kidman starrer - one that tells the story of a Hollywood star's disillusionment with life in Monaco in a lighter vein for the US audiences, and the other, cut by the movie's French producer, Pierre-Ange Le Pogan, and helmer Dahan, which will be darker. This is the rendering which Cannes will screen.

The two versions came after Weinstein and Dahan fired salvos at each other, and these also reportedly led to a standoff between the company and the Indian financier, Yash Raj Films, over an agreement to release it in America.

What has emerged from these developments is that the Americans and the French view Grace in entirely different ways. In the US, many view her as happy woman who raised three children and who led a fantasy life.

But the French - with a history of complicated relationship with Monaco, an independent principality within France and just at nodding distance from Cannes - see Kelly as one who suffered privately even as her royal family remained indifferent to her.

Interestingly, the two versions have popped out of a single script. Well, it is all about a question of interpreting an icon.

(Gautaman Bhaskaran will be covering the Cannes Film Festival for Hindustan Times, and may be e-mailed at gautamanb@hotmail.com)


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