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Two Documentaries for Grown-ups

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At Chesterwood (above), documentaries under the stars.

Is it our imagination or do the programs at our cultural institutions get more sophisticated come September, once the vacationing families have cleared out, and the kids have gone back to school?  This Saturday night, for example, two markedly grown-up documentaries, A Visit with Colette and Always Yes, Caresse will be screened at Chesterwood, the Stockbridge property, now an historic site, that was the 1920s summer home, studio, and garden of Daniel Chester French, the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial. 

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The Colette documentary, (in French with English subtitles) was made in 1951 by Yannick Bellon.  In it Colette, by then widely heralded as the greatest woman writer in France, reminisces rhapsodically about her rural childhood.  At one point, her neighbor in Paris’ Palais Royale, Jean Cocteau, drops by and assumes the role of interviewer.  One critic called the film, “a sheer delight.”

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On the same bill is another documentary, Always Yes, Caresse, about the scandalous, opium-smoking American avant garde publisher Caresse Crosby (nee Mary Phelps Jacob), who with her then husband Harry Crosby founded the legendary Black Sun Press, a Paris-based publisher of English-language books by James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, and other U.S.-banned writers of the between-the-wars period.  In the 1950s Caresse rented then later bought a dilapidated seventy-two room, fifteenth-century castle, Roccasinibalda, north of Rome.  Though the purchase entitled its owner henceforth to be called Principessa, Henry Miller described the property, where the film was shot, as the “Center for Creative Arts and Humanist Living in the Abruzzi Hills.”  Best moment: the surrealist dinner with Bob Hope that involves a plateful of live frogs.

4 Williamsville Road (off Route 183); Stockbridge, 413.298.3579
Grounds open at 7; film starts at 8
Admission: $15; $10/members
Dress warmly and bring a blanket or folding chairs; water and popcorn provided.  If you wish to picnic before the film, there are tables on the grounds.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 08/20/08 at 04:08 AM • Permalink