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on 25 February 2007
Interest in "Factory Girl" Edie Sedgwick has been renewed by a biopic that nobody likes. And "Edie: Girl on Fire" attempts to get into the head of the girl (incorrectly) described as the first person famous for being famous -- the text isn't much, but the many pictures are delightful.
It's mostly composed of quotes from various people who knew Edie -- lovers, pals, coworkers, and even the man she was briefly married to. It studies her early life, her life as the star of the Factory, and even quotations from Edie herself ("You care enough, that you want your life to be fulfilled in a living way, not in a painting way, not in a writing way").
It's also filled with dozens and dozens of photographs -- maybe on average, two per page. Close-ups, photo shoots, candids of her laughing and posing and smoking and talking and just grinning, and pictures of her while filming her movies with Warhol. Wedding pics, sketches, dancing silly hats, early socialite clubbing days, and more intimate pictures such as Edie carefully sculpting a clay horse.
Edie herself is the main reason to see this -- her charm and vibrancy can really be felt through the camera lens, and you can really see how beautiful she really was, even when her life was falling apart. And the pictures show her in every which way, in all states of mind.
The beauty of the pictures is fortunate, because they're strung on the thin text like wooden beads on a piece of thread. The quotes are nice, often informative, but they make Edie seem like some kind of idealized angel who had no real flaws. And those essays that pop up every now and then are just revolting squishy and worshipful -- it's impossible to get a sense for what Sedgwick was actually like.
"Edie: Girl on Fire" is a simply brilliant photographic record of Edie Sedgwick's all-too-brief life. But the text isn't nearly as fulfilling -- just enjoy the view, and glean what you can of the Factory Girl from the images she left behind.