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Video: From problem girl to global fashion icon: Outrageous aristocrat Jane Birkin
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-24 13:10
The name Jane Birkin is usually mentioned along with the name of Serge Gainsbourg, her partner in love, life and work. Of course, in addition to this long-term relationship, Jane developed her own history earlier and continues now, independent of the cult French musician. Or is it still not, and the fate of the actress is inseparable from his influence?
A girl from a respectable English family
Jane Mallory Birkin was born on December 14, 1946 in London. Father, David Birkin, fought in World War II, mother - Judy Campbell - was an actress. Brother Andrew also grew up in the family, and after Jane her younger sister, Linda, was born. The family was prosperous and wealthy enough, the Birkins lived in a good area of the English capital - Chelsea, the children received everything they needed for a quiet childhood, and the ties of the head of the family with the English aristocracy gave confidence in their future.
But the sixties came - a time of rebellion against long-established and outdated values, the time of hippies, and Jane Birkin found herself at the mercy of this new philosophy of life. At the age of seventeen, she went to her first auditions and soon appeared on stage in the play "Carved Statue". The father, according to the actress herself, was very disappointed with the choice his daughter made.
At nineteen, Jane had already jumped out to marry - to the composer John Barry, the author of the legendary theme song for the Bond films and in the future - a five-time Oscar winner. At the same time, Birkin made her debut as a film actress, she took part in the filming of the film "Dexterity", where Charlotte Rampling and Jacqueline Bisset starred with her. The next project was "Magnification" by Michelangelo Antonioni, a film that won the Palme d'Or at the 1967 Cannes Film Festival. The role of Jane Birkin here was small, but bright - she appeared on the screen completely naked. The young actress was noticed and remembered.
In a marriage with Barry, a daughter, Kate, was born, but family life quickly fell apart, the couple separated, and Jane, taking the child with her, left for France. Despite the fact that she did not know French, she was invited to his film "Slogan" directed by Pierre Grimble. Jane's partner, who played the main male role, was already popular by that time composer and musician Serge Gainsbourg. Then both will say that it was "love at first sight."
A unique fusion of English and French
From that moment on, it is perhaps difficult to talk about Jane Birkin as a separate creative unit - her career as an actress and singer was shaped under the direct influence of Gainsbourg. She herself becoming a muse for directors, composers and fashion designers all her life, Birkin drew creative strength and inspiration from Serge's unique talent. The provocative nature of his songs, the cynicism and ambiguity of the lyrics, with the undoubted musical talent of Gainsbourg, attracted not only Jane. The couple quickly won the title of the most scandalous, to a large extent this was facilitated by the recording of their duet “I love you … I don’t you either,” which was banned from broadcasting on the radio and condemned by the Vatican. Gainsbourg wrote this composition for his former lover - Brigitte Bardot, but she refused to perform it, the song seemed to the actress too frank.
As for the roles in the movies, they went one after the other. A funny, slightly naive English girl, with a gap between her front teeth and hair, cut with kitchen scissors, and speaking French with uncertainty and an accent, she drove both the audience and the directors crazy. Among the film works of Birkin as an actress are films that became cult for their time, and to this day attract viewers. In 1969 Jacques Dere's "Pool" was released with Romy Schneider and Alain Delon.
The comedies by Claude Zidi, where Jane played in tandem with Pierre Richard - "He Begins to Get Angry" and "Keep Out of Sight", won particular success and love of the audience. In 1978 and 1981, she starred in the film versions of Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile and Evil Under the Sun.
In the eighties, Jane starred especially a lot. With Gainsbourg, they had already ended family and love relationships by that time, but they still maintained close creative ties. From marriage, Charlotte Gainsbourg was born, like her mother, who chose the path of an actress and singer for herself. "Best Actress of Her Generation" - Jane Birkin is proud to say about her now.
In 1981, when Jane was filming The Prodigal Daughter, an affair began between her and another cult French director, Jacques Doyon. It led to the actress's third marriage and the birth of her third daughter Lou. Gainsbourg still wrote songs for Birkin, Jane recorded music albums and began - after forty years - to go on stage with concerts.
Birkin cut off her hair so that the audience listened to music and lyrics during her performances, without being distracted by the performer's appearance. It was always common for Jane to feel fear of everyone's attention, she never watched her films, did not consider herself especially beautiful, was afraid to go on stage. Serge Gainsbourg died in 1991. Jane dedicated her first musical to his memory.
Her relationship with Doyon soon ended. In 2013, Birkin's eldest daughter, Kate Barry, tragically passed away, and Jane stopped all creative activities for several years. Currently, she acts in films and television projects, gives concerts, and is also actively involved in solving social problems, is engaged, in particular, the problems of immigrants and the fight against human rights violations. This is quite consistent with the nature of Birkin - she went to demonstrations back in the sixties, when she just arrived in Paris. One of the first demonstrations in which an English Frenchwoman took part was aimed at the abolition of the death penalty in France.
Lou Doyon, the youngest daughter of the actress, is remarkably similar to her mother. And yet, even she fails to overshadow the popularity of Jane Birkin; it is impossible to confuse this pretty young Englishwoman who looks at the modern viewer from the screen with anyone. She truly became a style icon - with her love of plain T-shirts, cashmere sweaters and jeans, with her basket miraculously transformed into one of the most expensive women's handbags - bearing the name Birkin.
It turns out that it is impossible to talk about Jane Birkin without mentioning Serge Gainsbourg, just as it cannot be denied that she herself has become a cult figure of the twentieth century.