On a recent trans-pacific flight, after I was too tired to work any more, I watched Grace of Monaco, which looked like the most innocuous choice and had some potential for being a positive experience. After all, when I was a little girl, every child knew the romantic fairytale that came true…how Grace Kelly became a glamorous Hollywood actress but gave it all up when she was only 26 to marry Prince Charming (aka Prince Rainier Grimaldi III), who carried her off to his castle in a faraway land (with an inheritance of 142 official titles…although Grace’s parents had to come up with a dowry of $2 million for their part in the transaction… 🙂 ). America was shocked and grieved (as was I) when Princess Grace died at only 52 in a car accident on the steep mountain road back to Monaco from their country home in Roc Agel. I thought hearing the story of her life would be fascinating. Alan and I have been to Monte Carlo. We’ve walked in the bountiful gardens (but not in the casinos), and we’ve traveled the very highway where Grace died (but not in this car!)
So, I really looked forward to watching the video, which was touted as a biopic— a slice-of-life drama centering on french political tensions in the early 1960s— about which I knew nothing. Having learned the hard way to double check what I hear or see, I wasn’t totally taken in, but it wasn’t until after returning home that I discovered just how far off the historical mark the movie really was. Here are a few of the comments, which are so scathing they’re almost funny:
*Film critic Peter Bradshaw: “a film so awe-inspiringly wooden that it is basically a fire-risk.”
* Screen Daily: “puzzlingly misjudged… a minor royal Euro-pudding which lands awkwardly in sub-Roman Holiday territory”.
* Hollywood Reporter: “The Shrek movies deconstruct fairy tale conventions with much more depth and wit than this dreary parade of lifeless celebrity waxworks.”
*Rotten Tomatoes: 3.3/10 “Beautifully shot but utterly vapid, Grace of Monaco fails to honor either its subject or its audience.”And, a sobering critique from the palace: “The Princely Family does not in any way wish to be associated with this film which reflects no reality and regrets that its history has been misappropriated for purely commercial purposes.” Well, I enjoyed the movie and was surprised to discover the truth, but I do believe the official palace stance. So, if you choose to watch the movie, don’t do it for its historical significance. Still, I love the true story of Grace’s transformation from movie star (which her father condemned as “a slim cut above streetwalker”) to a princess who reared three children (who stalwartly defend her reputation to this day) and was so beloved by her husband that he never remarried (although they say he did smoke 60 cigarettes a day)…a woman who gave up her career to reign with her husband and serve his people. (During Rainier’s long 56-year reign, he was able to reduce Monaco’s gambling industry from over 95% to less than 3% of their revenues, and Princess Grace founded AMADE Mondiale, a philanthropic organization to protect the “moral and physical integrity” and “spiritual well-being of children throughout the world”…a true work of Grace. Ah, that we might so honor our Prince Charming, Jesus, with such good works!My parting thought is this: Let’s keep checking our sources to learn the Truth… about this life and the next. It’s way too easy to believe “somebody’s” popular version, but exchanging truth for “commercial profit” (too busy; no interest…) is a very poor choice. I choose to believe the accounts of the apostles, who saw Jesus crucified, dead, and buried, and then had breakfast with him on the beach a few days later. They experienced his resurrection in such a profound way that it totally transformed them from frightened fishermen into fearless witnesses who all ended up dying for their faith. Why? Because they no longer feared death, seeing that it wasn’t permanent! How about you? Do you believe? The Truth is definitely worth obtaining, especially since it will bear eternal dividends.
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
(Credits: Although I did take the 3 pictures of Monaco and Monte Carlo, all the rest are from Wikipedia articles and images from the Grace of Monaco movie. The last picture is a 2013 painting by James Gill titled “Grace Kelly in Sun.” All the quotes were taken from Wikipedia articles and movie reviews.)