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Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky Premieres at Staller

Photo Credit: Stony Brook

“You don’t like color, Mademoiselle Chanel,” asked Catherine Stravinsky, after moving into Coco’s black and white decorated villa.

“Only if it’s black,” said Coco Chanel.

The Staller Center presented “Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky,” directed by Jan Kounen, on Friday, Nov. 5.  The movie was based on the book “Coco and Igor” by Chris Greenhalgh, which narrates Igor and Coco’s affair.  The movie is spoken in a mix of English, French and Russian, along with English subtitles for translations.

The film begins in Paris in 1913, when Igor Stravinsky, played by Mads Mikkelsen, is about to debut “The Rite of Spring” at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. But the audience, except Chanel, did not take to the ballet and caused so much of a scene that the police intervened.

Stravinsky’s piece was deemed too modern for the time.

The movie flashes forward to Paris in 1920, when Chanel arrives at a party, sometime after she loses her lover, Boy Capel, in a car crash.  It is at this party where Igor and Coco meet.

Soon after, in a scene where Chanel meets up with Igor at a museum, Chanel offers Stravinsky and his family a stay at her villa.  He accepts the offer, and moves into the house with his wife and four children.

Soon after the family moves into Chanel’s villa, emotional tension arises between Coco and Igor.  At one point, Igor sits down with Coco at the piano and teaches her to play.  Catherine Stravinsky, played by Elena Morozova, walks in, but leaves the room before being noticed.

Later, Chanel enters her room, where there is a framed picture of Boy on her nightstand, and turns the picture face down.  She goes to Igor, and they share an intimate moment that begins their affair.

Chanel is in the first stages of creating a perfume and she leaves for Grasse to work on it.  She chooses the scent for her perfume and names it Chanel No.5.  During Coco’s absence, Igor and Catherine now have time to talk and Igor admits to the affair.  Catherine brings up the idea of her leaving.

When Chanel returns, she and Catherine confront each other and the affair is brought up.

After this discussion, Coco decides to finance “The Rite of Spring” for an entire season, as long as no one knows it was she who provided the money.  There is a dinner party to celebrate this achievement.  Afterwards, Catherine leaves with the children, but not before leaving Chanel a letter.  The affair between Chanel and Igor seems to dissipate after Chanel reads the letter.

Igor presents “The Rite of Spring” again and Coco is there for support.

“I thought it was really beautifully done,” said Sarah Black, a graduate psychology student. “I liked the story, but I was a little disappointed with the ending.”

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