Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Jane Birkin was born in London on 14 December 1946, the daughter of Judy Campbell, an actress, and David Birkin, a captain in the Royal Navy. She first trod the boards at the age of 17 and met John BARRY, who signed her up in 1965 for his musical comedy Passion Flower Hotel. They married shortly afterwards, and Kate was born in 1967. When she was twenty years old, Jane attracted attention in Blow-up, Antonioni's scandalous film that received recognition at the Cannes Film Festival. In France, Pierre Grimblat was filming Slogan. He was looking for an Englishwoman to play opposite Serge Gainsbourg. The artist was already famous on the fringe of the 1960s teenage pop movement, but he was taking his break-up with Brigitte Bardot hard. Jane went for a screen test; she spoke broken French, knew nothing about her co-star and bore the brunt of his heartache. Gainsbourg, gruffer than ever, gave the frightened young woman a rough time, making her burst into tears in front of the camera. And that was how their mythical love story began in Paris in 1969. They became inseparable, becoming a legend in the 'underground' bars where the post-68 libertarian wind was blowing. Lasciviously languid in voice and body, they recorded Je t'aime moi non plus. Jane lent her ingenuousness to the hackneyed eroticism and was the talk of the town. The heretical single appeared on the Jane Birkin Serge Gainsbourg album, which was released in 1969. On that album Jane sang four tracks on her own, others in duet with Serge, including the timeless 69 année érotique. Censorship went wild, and the record sold a million copies in a matter of months. The couple made the headlines in all the magazines, gained a lot of media attention, and had fun. When Charlotte was born in 1971, Jane took two years off. She resumed her career again in 1973 with Di Doo Dah, her first solo album, and proved herself as a film actress in J. Rouffio's Sept morts sur ordonnance. Even if her performances were eclipsed by the 'erotic kitsch' soppiness at the time, slender Jane willingly played along with the image of the ethereal Englishwoman with which she had been saddled, and contributed to the success of these commercial productions. In 1975 the turbulent lovers were back with Je t'aime moi non plus, the film. In this film, Pygmalion explores a homosexual theme heightened by the ambiguity of his androgynous muse. Puritan France was outraged. The critics panned the film, and Jane, spurned by films, returned to the recording studios. Lolita go home came out in 1975. Jane sang Philippe Labro's lyrics set to Gainsbourg's music. In 1978 it was Ex-fan des sixties and the charm was working. The public was seduced by Jane's slightly acid tone, her half-piercing, half-whispered voice, and the cotton-wool touch she applied to Serge's tortured lyrics. In 1983 Jane had left Serge 2 years beforehand for Jacques Doillon, the director of La fille prodigue and la Pirate, who imposed a decidedly dramatic style on the actress. Gainsbourg was suffering from the separation and confessed it to her discreetly by writing Baby alone in Babylone for her. Jane, a deeply moving interpreter of the writer's inner turmoil, made the collusion of the divided lovers tremble behind each note of fuir le bonheur de peur qu'il ne se sauve, of dessous chics, or of Norma Jean Baker. The Eighties were glamorous, and Jane's life was golden. Lou was born in 1982, her album went gold and directors like Jacques Rivette and Régis Wargnier were in tune with her artistic sensitivity. After Lost song was released in 1987, Jane agreed to appear on stage at the Bataclan 'to shock Serge'.