Death of Jane Birkin, actress, singer and British fashion legend

Death of Jane Birkin, actress, singer and British fashion legend

The British singer and actress, who became an icon of French culture, died on Sunday at the age of 76.

His voice was one of the most identifiable in the history of French song. Eminently shrill, like that of an eternal little girl, decked out in an English accent that she will keep throughout her life: Jane Birkin passed away on Sunday July 16, 2023 at the age of 76. She leaves behind a phenomenal career in the history of French song, but also in an even wider history of cinema, having performed equally well in Anglo-Saxon and French cinema, turning in front of the cameras of the greatest directors of their time, from Michelangelo Antonioni to Jacques Rivette, via Jacques Deray, Richard Lester or even Claude Zidi.

Jane Birkin – The cinema and me part 1: from Blow-up to Don Juan 73 (tribute)

Jane Birkin was born in 1946, in London, into a British family from the London bourgeoisie. His mother, Judy Campbell, was then a leading actress, while his father, David Birkin, was a respected commander in Britain’s Royal Navy. Inspired by her mother, Jane Birkin began her film career in 1964 with a remarkable appearance in The Knack by Richard Lester, a major film of the Swinging London of the 1960s, a movement that made London the world capital of pop culture. It is however in the blow-up by Michelangelo Antonioni, Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1966, where she burst onto the screen thanks to a flash appearance lasting a few minutes in the role of a model: ” I saw the perfectionism of Antonioni who regulated the sweat on the face of David Hemmings to the droplet! Even for this small scene of nothing at all, I had the impression of being redesigned by this architect of the image. “says Jane Birkin at Première in 2021 on Antonioni.

After this stroke of brilliance, Jane Birkin chained small roles, and gave birth to her first child, Kate Barry, born of her union with the composer of film music John Barry, at the origin of the James Bond theme. She was hired in 1968 to shoot in Slogan by Pierre Grimblat, in which Serge Gainsbourg also plays, a French dandy par excellence who then begins to become an important name in the music industry. It’s personal and artistic love at first sight: from this new union will be born several cult albums (Jane Birkin/Serge Gainbourg, Baby Alone in Babylon, Ex-fan of the Sixties, Di Doo Dah…) as well as a feature film which caused a scandal when it was released in 1975, I love you too. Inspired by the eponymous song, Serge Gainsbourg cuts Birkin’s hair to make her a boyish girl forced by Krassky (Joe Dalessandro), a provocative homosexual, to practice sodomy. At the same time, she also appeared in The swimming pool by Jacques Deray, alongside Alain Delon and Romy Schneider, but also in Don Juan 73 by Roger Vadim with Brigitte Bardot.

Jane Birkin – The cinema and me part 2: from Je t’aime moi non plus to La Pirate (tribute)

She appeared at the same time in several popular comedies directed by Claude Zidi, including Mustard up my nose, where she demonstrates a real comic tempo against Pierre Richard. At the very beginning of the 1980s, in the wake of her separation from Serge Gainsbourg, she met the director Jacques Doillon, her future husband and father of their daughter Lou, who made her play in The Prodigal Daughter with Michel Piccoli, but also in The Piratecheeky remake of the Silence by Bergman, with Maruschka Detmers, as well as in Comedy! with Alain Souchon: “ This is someone who believed you could be a gigantic long distance runner and jumper and asked you things of infinite complexity to prove you right! He could take up to 80 10-minute sequence shots with one goal: to make his actors shine. “says the actress about her ex-husband at the microphone of Premiere. It was at this time that Jane Birkin also met Agnès Varda, who would devote a baroque documentary to her, Jane B. by Agnes V.while making her play in Kung Fu Master with his daughter Charlotte and Varda’s son, Matthieu Demy.

In the 1990s, she toured for the second time with Jacques Rivette for The Beautiful Noiseusebut she is also the daughter of Dick Bogarde in Daddy Nostalgia by Bertrand Tavernier. The 2000s and 2010s opened up new horizons for Jane B., allowing her to make a first film in the form of an introspective journey (boxes), while appearing at Catherine Corsini (Married but not too), Marion Vernoux (queens for a day), and Hong Sang-Soo (Haewon and the men).

Since the 1970s, Jane Birkin has also never stopped singing, regularly releasing studio albums, appearing at the same time in several plays, including two written by herself (Oh ! sorry you were sleeping And boxeswhich inspired the film of the same name.)

Her last appearance at the cinema provokes an indescribable thrill: she is the main figure of the documentary Jane by Charlotte, directed by her daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg, in which is magnified during discussions in bed, in the backstages of a concert, in front of her house in Finistère, or even in the old apartment in Rue de Verneuil that she shared with Serge Gainsbourg for almost 15 years. ” There, I understood that it was above all a film on a child in search of his place more than on my person or my career. I think I accepted this documentary to make her feel better. And she said things to me that really upset me. And at the same time, the purpose is truly universal. Every family can meet there “, she tells Première when the film is released.

Jane Birkin left in the stars, giving the impression of having lost a loved one, as she was part of an extremely wide audiovisual landscape, having succeeded in establishing herself as an icon of fashion, song and French cinema as well as worldwide .

Jane Birkin – The cinema and me part 3: from Jane B. by Agnès V. to Jane by Charlotte (tribute)

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