Love, Cecil

Love, Cecil is a bio-pic about Cecil Beaton. I have read his diaries from 1965 until his death in 1980 so it covers much familiar ground.

Now I have ordered an earlier volume,  Self-portrait with Friends: The Selected Diaries of Cecil Beaton, that covers 1926, when he was twenty-two, until 1974. But what about the film? The Times gave it two stars out of five and condemned it as a hagiography. Others have been more charitable. It is a collage of interviews with Cecil, including extracts from his grilling on Face To Face by John Freeman, interviews with those who knew him like Diana Vreeland, Nicky Haslam, David Bailey, David Hockney, his butler, and so on but my interest was captured by a kaleidoscope of Cecil’s photographs.

His life is told through his pictures. Parties at Ashcombe, portraits of friends, commissioned portraits, working in America, working as a war photographer in the Middle and Far East, his work for the Royal Family and with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (a tricky double to pull off), photos of film stars, singers, politicians, painters, aristocrats give an idea of how prolific he was. He worked tirelessly.

But if he had never picked up a camera Cecil would be famous for his stage and film designs. Here is a list of his honours, awards and medals garnered from Wikipedia. Only one is for his photography.

Tony Award for Best Costume Design for Quadrille (1955)
CBE (1956)
Tony Award for Best Costume Design for My Fair Lady (1957)
Fellow of the Ancient Monuments Society (1957)
Academy Award for Costume Design for Gigi (1958)
Tony Award for Best Costume Design for Saratoga (1960)
Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (1960)
Academy Award for Best Art Direction for My Fair Lady (1964)
Academy Award for Costume Design for My Fair Lady (1964)
Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain (1965)
Tony Award for Best Costume Design for Coco 1970
International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame, named 1970
Knighthood (1972)