The Secret Stories of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg | AnOther
Exhibition in Calais captures intimate moments from Birkin and Gainsbourg's relationship. Actor and singer Jane Birkin reflects on that bag – and the significant men in her life. [The couple had one child, Charlotte Gainsbourg.]. In the s Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg charmed and Having cut my tea-boy teeth on a couple of forgotten films in England, I set my.
Andrew is a director and screenwriter. As a teenager, I loved Cliff Richard — I had pictures of him on my wall. And I loved Yul Brynner. It was all about musicians and artists — I also adored composer Leonard Bernstein and painter Francis Bacon.
I love creative men. I grew up in London in the swinging '60s. It was a fabulous time, but an era my kids are more obsessed with than me. It was a time of social revolution in fashion and music.
It was exciting to be around the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. There were beautiful women everywhere — and men knew it. I met composer John Barry when I was We married young, but it wasn't young in those days. He was established in his field and living a life more extraordinary than mine. He was amazing in my eyes. My father wouldn't have tolerated me running off to live with a man [so] he gave in and said yes, I could marry him. He did tell me it would be a complete disaster — and it was.
We were together for a few years and had one child, Kate. I went to live with my parents after it ended. I arrived in France aged 20 [after winning a lead role in the film Slogan]. That's where I met Serge Gainsbourg. I didn't know who he was or any of his songs. He was an extraordinary man. We were together for 13 years. He showed me a life I hadn't explored. To know that he wrote about me until his dying day is more than touching. I was travelling with a bag that wasn't ideal because everything fell from it.
He ended up suggesting they design a bag for me. I thought it was such a good idea and said it was okay if they used my name. I had nothing to do with the design apart from the fact that my name is on it. So yes, a guy sits next to a girl on a plane and the rest is fashion history. I have had three children to three different men [Birkin has a third child, Lou, with Jacques Doillon].
This is the first time I have come out of my gloomy hole since my daughter Kate died [from a balcony fall in ]. All those happy memories of having my first child, coming to France for the first time with Kate as a baby and meeting Serge I am very focused on my grandchildren now.
After a brief interlude working with the Beatles who wryly demanded a share of my forged-autograph spoilsby the following spring I was back with Kubrick, this time on his aborted attempt to film the life of Napoleon.
Jane was also in Paris, with Kate, making a low-budget French film about which she complained bitterly. The man in the film with me. For my part, it was love at first sight. Serge was so utterly different from anyone I had ever met: Serge was no fan of any of these, and doubtless attributed my own enthusiasm to youthful naivety. But for all his capitalist airs, Serge was a true socialist: I began to gather highlights of his history: Serge lightly recounted how he had spent most of the war up a tree, hiding from the Nazis his sister Jacqueline claims that it was one night at most.
Being Jewish, he had had to wear a yellow star pinned to his coat — which his mother would carefully iron, telling him to wear it with pride. Our parents came to visit — it was their introduction to Serge — and as I was by now in the habit of carrying a camera wherever I went, I felt no inhibition about snapping away.
Not that our parents were exactly good examples of middle-class normality: Our father had joined the Royal Navy during the war and navigated motor torpedo boats across the Channel — without radar on moonless nights — to rescue allies stranded in occupied France.
Having suffered appalling eye injuries as a teenager, which had led to permanent pain and double vision, he briefly tried farming before moving to Chelsea, where he took up painting, as well as helping former convicts to rehabilitate.
Unfinished sympathy: Jane Birkin on Serge Gainsbourg
It was not surprising that Serge should take to this odd family with brazen relish. Meanwhile Jane and Serge had gone to Nepal, where Jane played a hippie in Les Chemins de Katmandou — and where they both got so stoned that they never dared repeat the experience.
Reluctantly I returned to England, where Serge was about to get his first taste of a traditional family Christmas. Jane cautiously produced a demo LP that she and Serge had recorded and played it to us. Only later did she come up to visit me alone, clutching the demo. There was another song on the album, one she had not dared to play in front of our parents: Gainsbourg and Kate in Bladon churchyard, In the new year brought the news that MGM had pulled the plug on Napoleon for good.
To learn something about film editing, I took a job in the cutting rooms at Pinewood Studios, but not before gasping a last breath of freedom in France with Jane and Serge, holed up near Deauville. That night Serge and I played chess, the first of many games. He was undoubtedly the better player when sober, but I had the advantage once the wine began to flow. He liked to play for money, and Jane was less than pleased to note how often he would wind up drunk at the end of a game while I counted my winnings.
On the surface we were polar opposites: I was a deeply antisocial socialist, whereas Serge was a gregarious capitalist — or so he seemed.Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg - La Décadanse
But alone with him, I caught my first real glimpse of his Russian melancholy and essential loneliness, despite his surface gaiety. As Jane later wrote to me, 'Serge has no friends. All the names in his fat address book are business relations or past mistresses — but not one real friend. There was a night shoot in progress, in which Jane seemed to be dancing one moment and being ravaged the next.
Serge had the shoot all worked out. We sought out the Oxford bus depot, deserted at the weekend, and bribed the watchman to turn a blind eye while Serge took to the wheel of a double-decker with Jane at his side. Charlotte with her father, The next day we went to Bladon churchyard as Jane and I wanted to see the grave of Sir Winston Churchill.
Kate was with us, and Serge suddenly conceived the notion of acting out her worst nightmare — a sort of preview of his film Stan the Flasher.
'He was a great man. I was just pretty': photos tell story of Jane and Serge
With Kate happily playing his victim, Serge crept among the tombstones, then — his eyeballs rolling and limbs flailing — he pounced and carried her off to her doom. We knew then that the s honeymoon was over.
The new decade began well for me: I was finally being paid to direct, albeit in the second unit on a small movie for David Puttnam. This led him to give me my first commission as a scriptwriter — on a musical with Bob Dylan in mind. One of the few joys of writing is not being tied to any particular location, and as Jane and Serge were making Romance of a Horsethief in Yugoslavia with Eli Wallach and Yul Brynner our Magnificent Seven heroes from childhoodwhere better to hole up for a few weeks?
I drove from England to the little town of Ilok, where they were entrenched with Kate in a huge castle overlooking the Danube.
The Year Romance That Enchanted A Generation | HuffPost
As Yul B and EI Wallop as Kate christened him had their rooms down the corridor, entertainment was guaranteed and little writing done. Charlotte being photographed by her mother, The adventure extended to several months when Jane and Serge went on to make a Yugoslav war film, way off the beaten track in the Serbian hinterland.
The producer gave them a soulless modern house on the edge of a village called Gacko, in which I took happy refuge on their kitchen sofa, tapping away on my portable Olivetti while they engaged with thespian Nazis.
Most evenings Serge and I would play chess, with more or less success on my part thanks to a large supply of Russian vodka. After a month in Gacko, Serge suggested we drive to Dubrovnik for the weekend.
He booked us into a romantic hotel overlooking the harbour, then we went shopping and bought an enormous toy train set, which we soon had running between our two bedrooms. The album cover depicted Jane, hiding her four-month pregnancy behind the symbol of her childhood, Munckey.
By the time we reached Berlin, I knew what my next project had to be.