Lupe - A Critique & Summary
As I entered The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA, I couldn’t believe I was about to see Andy’s film, Lupe. I approached the main desk at the lobby and told the staff I had an 11am meeting with Greg Pierce, one of the film department curators. He was standing nearby and greeted me with a smile and a handshake. We got on the elevator and headed up to the 5th floor. Greg asked me, “Which version would you like to see?” This threw me off. “There’s more than one version?”, I asked. He explained there was the double screen version and the single screen version. That obviously made sense to me the second he started to explain that (keep in mind, the whole time I was in some kind of a daze from all the excitement). He took me past 2 heavy doors, down a back hallway, and into a room that was filled with film reel tins, videotapes, DVDs, etc. He suggested I view the single screen version first as that’s how he first saw it when he got to the museum. He pulled out that on a VHS reference tape. Then he pulled out the double screen version as well. Next he asked me if I cared to see any other films…. Wait, what? I blanked! I could see other Warhol films? I was thrown off guard yet again because I wasn’t expecting that. That’s when Greg pulled out Face, another rare film starring Edie Sedgwick that was to be apart of the Poor Little Rich Girl saga. We left the room and headed back down a couple floors to go into another room where I would be watching the tapes. Greg step up the TV for me, plugged in some headphones, and left me to do my thing.
Lupe (Single Screen)
The first thing in the single screen version of Lupe that I noticed was the color wasn’t as bright and vibrant as in the stills and video clips that are floating around the internet. This is probably due to the fact that this VHS tape is only a reference copy and not a digitally remastered/properly preserved copy. The first three minutes of the film are of a close up on Edie sleeping. The camera zooms out as she wakes up. She grabs a cigarette and the camera zooms in as she lights it causing the cigarette to be out of the frame. Edie does drop her head down into the frame at one point and I noticed too how thin her legs were. She then proceeds to grab some chewing gum. Six minutes into the film, Edie gets up to grab the ringing telephone that’s out of the frame;
”Hello? Oh, fine! It’s great, I have nothing to do, otherwise I’d have to do my toenails”
Edie continues to have a small talk conversation with the other party for awhile in her usual soothing speaking tone. Around 7min into the film, the camera starts to pan up and down, up and down, and zooms in. 11mins, Billy Name comes in and gives Edie a haircut.
Edie ends up putting a red feather in her hair at one point. 22mins: She leans over to her left to look into the wall mirror and this causes her to knock a hand mirror off the bed and onto the floor. She rolls her eyes at the camera, expressing that she’s angry/embarrassed with herself. I thought she looked incredibly adorable.
I took note around the 25min mark that Warhol did a beautiful job with framing Edie looking at her reflexion. My little doodle shows the wall mirror centered on frame between her and her reflection, maybe slightly off to the right. Edie’s face pokes up from the bottom of the frame (her nose being the cut off mark).
32min: Billy starts to leave but promises he’ll be back by 5pm with some hair colors for Edie. The VHS tape then cuts to several minutes of footage showing Edie with her head in a toilet. -End of reel 1 (left side)-
The VHS cuts to a new reel, this footage would be the first projected on the right side of the double screen. For a minute we see a dining room setting and after that minute, Edie comes walking into frame with a vase of flowers and proceeds to place them on the fireplace mantel. She then sits down in the chair placed in the corner of the room that’s opposite of the camera and smokes a cigarette. She’s hard to see since there’s a huge arrangement of flowers on the dining room table which hides her from the camera. She gets up and moves the head of the dining table. After 2mins of this setup, Warhol finally zooms in to an extreme close up of Edie’s hand moving a glass of wine to her mouth. Warhol then zooms back out into a medium shot.
42min into the VHS tape, a kitten comes into the frame right beneath the dining room table. A minute later it starts to meow which notions Edie to pick up the small feline. Around 45min, Andy pans up to reveal the beauty of the high ceilings and crown moldings. He then pans down to a close up of Edie drinking and eating. 47min, Edie starts to nod off to sleep above her food. A couple minutes later Andy does his signature flash zooms in and out as Edie pops a pill into her mouth.
54min: Edie gets up from the table to turn a radio on that’s off screen left. I’m still trying to figure out what the name of the song is that came on, but my notes say; “Good Guys Love You” & “The weekend”. Edie sits back down and pretends to toast her wine glass to someone in front of her. She gets up to change the station. She comes back to the table and almost touches the food on her plate that has hardly been touched at all. She pops another pill. She gets up to turn the radio’s volume louder. 60min; “Love You As Long As I Live” (not sure on the artist or official title of that song) ends and Edie starts to do her signature dance moves in a more swaying manor by the fireplace with a flower in hand.
62min: Andy starts to rapidly zoom in and out again on Edie. Is this symbolising her trip? After a couple minutes of intense zooming, Andy settles down a little but is still manipulating the frame while Edie picks up her dinner plate and takes it for a spin before she sits back down. 67min: Edie gets back up to dance again, this time more jerky/freely then the previous gracious movements. It appears that there may be an actual photo of the real Lupe Vélez on the left of the mantel. 69min: Edie walks off screen towards the camera with a flower and glass of wine in hand. The VHS tape then jumps to more footage of Edie with her head in the toilet (this would appear on the right side of the double screen). There are a bunch in camera edits and flash zooms in and out on the floor, or to her elbow and out. This version of the film ends with “©1994 Andy Warhol Foundation” The VHS tape then proceeded onto to Haircut No. 1 (more on that and the other films later.)
Double Screen Version
While viewing the double screen version, the viewer gets a better sense of the contrast between the two reels. On the first reel, she wears a red dress and in the second reel she’s wearing a blue dress. It’s very attractive visually. The viewer’s allowed to see Lupe going through her daily activities on the left and start to disintegration on the right. Lastly, both toilet scenes go together better when they’re side by side. It shows of more angles and brings out different senses of emotion. This version ends with “©2001 Andy Warhol Foundation”
The single screen version does offer a different outlook on the film with it’s foreshadowing (the first inserted toilet scene) and focused view on each reel and it’s sound. Personally, I prefer the double screen version. I found it to be more visually pleasing to the eye this way and it was more fascinating. Also, keep in mind that this is how it was originally intended to be viewed.
The “Lost” Reel
After viewing all the films Greg had to offered me, I had a chance to have a conversation with him. I did a little research before seeing Lupe and found that it was originally screened as a triple screen. I asked if that was true. Greg said it indeed was. It was apart of a commemoration event in honor of Edie (forgive me for forgetting the full details on this event). Greg said that he would be going to the Museum of Modern Art in NYC within the next month or so to retrieve that reel as well as a few other rarities. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to share what their future plans are with these rarities, but there’s a good chance we will see this lost reel in the near future ;)
Fun fact: I always pronounced Lupe as Lupé, but Greg pronounced it as Loopy. Just thought I’d share that with anyone else who wasn’t sure on the pronunciation.
*I mentioned how there were 6 other films I got to look at. More on Batman/Dracula, Face, Haircut No. 1, Harlot, Tub Girls, and the rare Bufferin Commercial soon!
Top Gif and two middle photos from onlyediesedgwick. Bottom photo my own.