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Chelsea Girls (1966)

 -  Drama  -  November 1968 (Denmark)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 688 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 11 critic

Lacking a formal narrative, Warhol's art house classic follows various residents of the Chelsea Hotel in 1966 New York City, presented in a split screen with a single audio track in conjunction with one side of screen.

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Title: Chelsea Girls (1966)

Chelsea Girls (1966) on IMDb 6.5/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brigid Berlin ...
Herself - The Duchess (as Brigid Polk)
Randy Borscheidt ...
Himself
Ari Boulogne ...
Himself (as Ari)
Angelina 'Pepper' Davis ...
Herself
Dorothy Dean ...
Herself
Eric Emerson ...
Himself
Patrick Flemming ...
Himself
Ed Hood ...
Himself
Arthur Loeb ...
Himself
Donald Lyons ...
Himself
Gerard Malanga ...
Son
Marie Menken ...
Mother
Mario Montez ...
Transvestite
Nico ...
Herself
Ondine ...
Himself - Pope
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Storyline

Lacking a formal narrative, Warhol's art house classic follows various residents of the Chelsea Hotel in 1966 New York City, presented in a split screen with a single audio track in conjunction with one side of screen.

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Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

November 1968 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Chelsea Girls  »

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shown as an "underground" movie at 41st Street Basement Cinémathéque, New York. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Himself - Pope: By the way, "The Bride Of Frankenstein" is the greatest movie ever made. It's just fabulous... Isn't it?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Nico Icon (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Unique and New
5 May 2013 | by See all my reviews

What do most people know Andy Warhol by? It's probably one of three things. His paintings of soup cans, his incredibly long films about literally nothing (like the 7 hour "Empire" starring...the Empire State Building), or his raw legacy as a pop-icon and as a star of counterculture in the '60s. Few people really know that his was a rather prolific film director. Well, not prolific in the standard sense (he never seemed particularly passionate about his cinematic accomplishments), but as far as output of films, he's ahead of many. Now Chelsea Girls is the second Warhol film I've seen (behind Vinyl) and I don't plan on seeing anymore, because Chelsea Girls seemed to be a statement of almost everything Warhol wanted to say.

Chelsea Girls is one of the most important films in a series of avant- garde movies in the 1960's. Besides Brakhage, Warhol is often considered to be the most influential and fresh experimental filmmaker of that time. But why? What makes some three-and-a-half-hour film about nothing so interesting, new, and yet still entertaining and interesting? It's the filming style and creativity of which it is portrayed.

The film is presented with two separate film reels at once, but with only one of the reel's audio. So it's basically like watching one and a half movies at once. Originally, it was the projectionist's choice of which soundtrack was used, but at this point it has become more standardized with the update of digital film.

There are a dozen, 33-minute reels, played two at once, making the film a total of three-and-a-half hours. All of the characters in the movie are those of Warhol's buddies; from dominatrices, to heroin dealers, to corrupt religious officials, to the underground rock star Nico herself.

Oftentimes I'm very intrigued by films showing impoverishment. I can't exactly pinpoint why; it's just something that interests me. Chelsea Girls shows the opposite by displaying some of the most despicable characters ever filmed in cinema, giving an effective "slice-of-life" of these money-obsessed Fellini-esque individuals.

While the second hour is a bit lacking as it ventures more into pointless surrealism when the rest of the film is focused more on the pure dramatic aspects of the characters, the first and third hours of Chelsea Girls are tragic, funny, entertaining, but also give insight and demonstrate brilliant chemistry from the entire ensemble. Additionally, if you ever get bored watching it, just let your eyes drift to the other screen for a while.

Many will talk about the themes of Chelsea Girls. A theory I've taken a liking to it's filmed like a party, where you can hear some people talking, and want to hear everyone and see what's going on, but you know it's impractical (as would be watching Chelsea Girls one reel at a time). I truly believe that the last set of reels, however, is the most important in the whole, non-structured movie. In it, we hear the audio from a corrupt "pope" as he beats a woman, rants, and talks about how "Bride of Frankenstein" is the greatest movie ever, while in the other reel, we simply watch Nico crying while assorted rave lights flash onto her.

This creates a mood of sadness, of weeping for this life, but also a sense of self-awareness. Is Warhol revealing his realizes the chivalry of his, and the cast's, antics? I believe so.

Chelsea Girls is certainly one of the most unique films ever made, and a landmark achievement and must-see for anyone interested in Warhol or experimental cinema.


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