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The Times (19/Oct/2013) - Grace Kelly film ruined by greed and ego, says director



Grace Kelly film ruined by greed and ego, says director

It is a tale of power and money, according to the director; a web of ego and intrigue involving noble French goodies and scheming American baddies.

Olivier Dahan was not, however, talking about his biopic on Grace Kelly, which will be among the most keenly awaited films of next year. Instead, he was speaking of his struggle with the American mogul whom he blames for subverting his masterpiece.

Dahan, who is among France's most respected directors, describes his film about the 1950s Hollywood starlet who became a princess when she married into Monaco's Royal Family as a work of art. He claims that Harvey Weinstein, its US distributor, was, however, more concerned with marketing than artistic merit.

Dahan says that Weinstein's company obtained the early, unedited copies of the film without his consent and cut out the artistic scenes. The result, Dahan says, is that two adaptations of the biopic starring Nicole Kidman now exist: his high-flown one and a dumbed-down American variant.

With Dahan and Weinstein involved in a stand-off that highlights the extent of Franco-American cultural differences, it is unclear which will be released.

"There are two versions of the film at present, mine and his, which I find catastrophic," Dahan told Liberation, the French daily newspaper.

His comments come a month after Weinstein announced that he was delaying the release of Grace of Monaco, originally scheduled for next month, until next year.

The move was widely seen as an attempt to put Kidman in line for an Oscar next year, although Dahan, whose movies include La Vie en Rose, a biopic on Edith Piaf, said the delay "has got almost nothing to do with the film, it's only a question of money".

He said the Weinstein Company wanted a "commercial film, that is to say at ground level, removing anything that is higher than that, anything that is too abrupt, removing everything that has to do with cinema, everything that has to do with life".

He added: "A lot of things are missing, and decisions are only taken with Nicole Kidman has the title role in Olivier Dahan's film regards to the marketing. It is a problem of misplaced egos, a story of manipulation and power. That's why I'm becoming disinterested in this film."

Dahan denied allegations that he was a "control freak", unwilling to let others have a say in his movies. "It's not a question of mastering everything, Just of working with people who want to make a film that resembles a film, and not a trailer or a marketing obJect."

The French director said his film -- dubbed Disgrace of Monaco in Paris -- had gone awry when the Weinstein Company started to promote it. "They made a trailer that did not correspond to the film and then tried to make the film resemble the trailer. It's absurd."

The film is said to focus on a period of Kelly's life in 1962 when Alfred Hitchcock was seeking to tempt her back into films, and General Charles de Gaulle, France's ruler at the time, was putting pressure on Prince Rainier III of Monaco, her husband, over the issue of French taxes.

The biopic, which also stars Tim Roth and Derek Jacobi, has stirred controversy before. In January, Prince Albert, Rainier's son with Kelly, now the ruler of the Principality, issued a Joint statement with Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie, his sisters, to denounce it as "pointlessly glamorised" and full of "important historical inaccuracies".