The other night we went and saw the new French film Gainsbourg, about one of my favourite popular singers, Serge Gainsbourg.
It’s an interesting film – I don’t think it really did justice to the great man, but it’s a big task for one so talented, so revered, so complex. The film focused on the women in his life: Juliette Greco, Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin, and the actresses all do a good job portraying them (especially Laetitia Casta as Bardot, she gave me shivers in her opening scene) but at the end of it, I felt as if his magnetism hadn’t really come across. Eric Elmosnino portrayed Gainsbourg at all ages from young man to old(er).
I feel as I’m making excuses for them, but it’s hard to portray real characters.
After seeing it, I planned a post about La Bardot, the eternal Bardot who style never seems to fade but since then it’s Birkin who has been uppermost in my mind.
Coming after Bardot (no easy feat), she stole his heart, married him, gave birth to Charlotte and after thirteen crazy years, left him. There are many photos of the two of them, and they testify to the strong bond between them. Here’s a nice shot of the two of them, walking down the street in the early ’70s – that’s probably Charlotte in the bassinette.
Click on it to see a larger version: they look so happy! I love how Jane wears Mary Janes with her hot pants and stockings.
A few years ago Tim and I visited Gainsbourg’s grave in Paris – it surprised me to see that he was buried with his parents, and speaks a lot about his life and his values. The grave was covered in fan mementos: love letters, artworks, flowers and vegetables. My memory tells me that they were pumpkins but after seeing the film I’m confident that I’m wrong – they must have been cabbages.
It didn’t make a lot of sense to me until I saw this film (yes, I’ve listened to quite a bit of Gainsbourg but my French isn’t good enough to discern the requisite composition). I can’t see any cabbages (or pumpkins) but here is the photo I took in early February, 2005.
We went to see Jane Birkin sing when she performed in Melbourne a few years ago: she’s still so beautiful and vibrant. In many ways the ’60s seems like a long time ago but seeing Jane dance wearing a red 1930s style silk dress, it feels like it never went away.