I recently saw the whole thing and I thought it was, as a whole, a fine effort. I don’t see how a ballet fan can afford to miss it. It does focus more on the personal and on subjects that couldn’t be discussed freely in Fonteyn’s lifetime, but that was obviously the point of making the documentary in the first place. There’s wonderful footage that I haven’t seen elsewhere.
The tone is a trifle melodramatic, but familiar to those who saw Palmer’s previous Callas documentary; this one is in much the same vein. The picture is a lot harder on the family Arias than Meredith Daneman is in her book – there’s nothing in Daneman about any codicils to Fonteyn’s will or thumbprints – I don’t believe she discusses Fonteyn’s will at all, in fact. I assume that’s because she needed on them for information about Fonteyn’s last years – the movie relies more on the testimony of Phoebe Fonteyn and the book relies mainly on Querube Arias (who’s also seen in the film). I must say they do seem like a creepy lot, even worse than one had previously suspected. Fonteyn’s son-in-law was really an item for the record books. And I have to admit that I was appalled by the shot of Fonteyn’s burial place. On the other hand, they must have had something to keep Fonteyn paying the bills all those years.
Gosh, Nureyev was attractive. Even after all this time those shots of him in his youth make my jaw drop.
In re Nureyev: the movie quotes a dancer as observing him “explode” in a rehearsal upon hearing of a miscarriage by Fonteyn, if I heard her correctly. Daneman’s book quotes Fonteyn’s gynecologist as stating that she never had a miscarriage, so there should obviously be a question mark. Evidence of the unreliability of company gossip.
A few sad reflections, after watching the interview with Pamela May, on the ravagings of old age.
Very moved by the segment with Clive Barnes, where he gets teary remembering a performance by Fonteyn and the evanescence of such beauty.
Fonteyn really had a beautiful backbend, didn't she? Very deep, and she can do them very quickly or slowly with a lovely limpid motion. Yummy.canbelto
I even felt sympathy for Tito, despite the fact that he was a philandering freeloader. He didn't know any better. And if there is such a thing as karma, Tito certainly got his comeuppance, as cruel as that sounds.
Yes, it must have been difficult for a man so obstinate about preserving his independence -- sexually and geographically, if not financially -- to suddenly be so utterly and absolutely in the hands of others, especially his wife.