A remarkable film that premiered at this year�s CineVegas film festival was La Vie En Rose, the ultimate rags to riches biographical story of Edith Piaf, an early 20th century French singer. The film was beautifully portrayed with an unforgettable Oscar- worthy performance by Marion Cotillard, who was the incarnation of the late singer. Cotillard, who skillfully lip-synced Piaf�s famous ballads not only physically transformed into her, but brought the singer�s spirit, soul, passion and the tragedies she endured to life.
| |� 2007 Picturehouse Entertainment.
The film begins with Edith shown as a young child; her piercing blue eyes standing out the most amongst her saddened angelic face. Her mother, Annetta Giovanna Maillard (Clotilde Courau) was a street caf� singer, prostitute, and a hard alcoholic. She never cared much for her daughter, and left her sick child on the street sidewalks to wait while she performed for a few coins. Edith�s father, Louis-Alphonse Gassion (Jean-Paul Rouve) worked in the circus and on the street as an acrobat and contortionist. Young Edith was soon abandoned by both parents and was left with her paternal grandmother who ran a brothel in Normandy. While being raised in the brothel by prostitutes, Edith suffered from an array of illnesses. Hoping for a miracle, her grandmother�s prostitutes gathered enough money to send Edith to honor Saint Therese de Lisieux. After praying before the Saint�s statue, a miracle did occur which was witnessed by those who knew her at that time.
When Edith�s father came back from the army, he took young Edith to join him on his acrobatic street performances. Titine, (Emmanuelle Seigner) the prostitute who took care of Edith, as portrayed in the film, cried uncontrollably when Edith�s father took her. It was as if one of her own children was ripped from her womb. Titine was the only mother-like figure that Edith knew, since her own had abandoned her. Now, back on the familiar streets of Paris, Edith stood by and gathered any change that the audience would spare, while her father performed his act. One day, as her father wowed the on-lookers, someone from the crowd yelled in French, �Does the girl do anything?� That is when her father forced Edith to perform for the crowd. Nervous and shy, Edith opened her mouth and in that moment her history and legacy began. The audience was aw-struck by the little girl�s booming voice. She was only nine, but could sing like the great French singers of her time. As she entered adolescence and realized her talent, Edith separated from her father and went her own way, singing in Pigalle, Menilmontant, and in Paris suburbs.
Edith began her career by ironically following in her mother�s footsteps, singing on street corners for money. However, unlike her mother, Edith�s luck would change. While performing at a piazza one day, Edith was discovered by nightclub owner Louis Lepl�e, her �savior� and �daddy Lepl�e� (as she calls him in the film). Her spectacular voice inspired Lepl�e to give Edith her famous stage-name, La M�me Piaf (The Sparrow Kid). Edith�s voice would deliver her from the empoverished lifestyle she once knew, but with her new and deserved good fortune, tragedy became a regular unwanted guest in her eclectic life.
| |Edith Piaf (Marion Cotillard), Momone (Sylvie Testud) �Photography Bruno Calvo
Edith�s voice also called to composers of music and plays alike. In 1940, the French playwright and poet, Jean Cocteau, wrote the play Le Bel Indiff�rent, intended for �dith to star in the leading role. As her fame progressed so did her social circle, and in turn, her addiction to booze and drugs. She began to make friends with famous people such as actor Maurice Chevalier, Yves Montad and the poet Jacques Borgeat. Edith also wrote the lyrics to many of her songs while collaborating with composers. At the height of her success, the French war also shared the spotlight.
Her association with the French resistance is well-known, and because of her efforts, many members of the resistance were saved. When the war ended, Edith toured in Europe, the United States and South America. Although she was not accustomed to American norms and to Americans when first arriving, as she stated �They don�t get me and I don�t get them,� she steadily gained great popularity while in the U.S. and even appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show eight times and performed at Carnagie Hall twice.
While performing in New York, Edith became acquainted with the famous French boxer Marcel Cerdan (Jean-Pierre Martins). Instantly, their mutual attraction became an intense love affair. Although Cerdan was married with children at the time, he could not help but fall for Edith as she fell hopelessly in love with him in return. As circumstances have it, Edith would soon endure yet another tragedy, one from which she would never recover. Depressed and quickly developing an addiction to morphine after being in a car accident, Edith tried numbing both her physical and emotional pain. All the tragedies she endured began to wear her down, and the young song-bird which once flew so high was slowly loosing her wings as her health deteriorated. However, even though she suffered much heartache from a very young age, and as her heart and soul continued to take a beating as an adult, her will and passion for singing never ceased.
| |p�re d'Edith (Jean-Paul Rouve), Edith � 8 ans (Pauline Burlet) �Photography Bruno Calvo
Through the marvelous direction of Olivier Dahan and the extraordinary performance by Marion Cotillard, the remarkable singer was brought back to life. The film, inspired by Piaf�s life, encompassed enough drama to produce script for several Greek tragedies. Throughout the movie, the audience could not help but simultaneously feel sympathy, compassion and pity for the singer. Sniffles were heard throughout the theater as the singer�s bitter-sweet life unfolded before their eyes. Edith lived her life without regrets, as one of her famous songs, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien explained; but amongst all of the suffering, she continued to fight to survive. Edith endured illness, abandonment, stardum, tragedy and finally addiction. A precious life with a remarkable gift of song, she struggled through enough pain and heartache to fill ten lifetimes. Even through her challenges, Edith Piaf still managed to leave behind a lasting legacy to those who admired her voice, her will to live, and her mission to love. This is surely a true life story that was meant to be told and never forgotten.
Learn more about the film and watch the trailer at: www.edithpiafmovie.com
DID YOU KNOW?
- Edith Piaf was born �dith Giovanna Gassion on December 19, 1915 in Belleville, Paris.
- La Vie En Rose became Edith�s signature song.
- La Vie En Rose in French is translated, �Life through rose-colored glasses.� More literally, �Life in pink.�
- Edith�s signature song has been performed by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Placido Domingo, and many more famous singers.
- La Vie En Rose was given a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998.
- There is a museum dedicated to Piaf, the Mus�e �dith Piaf at 5, rue Crespin du Gast, 75011, Paris.
- The film La Vie en Rose, by Olivier Dahan debuted at the Berlin Film Festival in February, 2007.
- In France, the film is known as La M�me (The Kid).
- In her ascendence from life, Edith was denied a funeral mass by the Roman Catholic bishop of Paris (because of her lifestyle), yet her funeral procession brought hundreds of thousands of mourners to the streets of Paris, and the ceremony at the cemetery was attended by more than forty thousand fans.
- Charles Aznavour recalled that Piaf's funeral procession was the only time since the end of World War II that he saw Parisian traffic come to a complete stop.
- The famed Paris Olympia concert hall is where Piaf achieved lasting fame, giving several series of concerts at the hall between January 1955 and October 1962. Excerpts from five of these concerts (1955, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962) were issued on record and CD and have never been out of print.
- In April 1963, Piaf recorded her last song, "L'homme de Berlin".
- At the early age of 48, Piaf died of cancer at Plascassier, on the French Riviera, on October 11, 1963, the same day her friend Jean Cocteau died. She was buried in P�re Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris.
- Today she is still remembered and revered as one of the greatest singers France has ever produced.
*Facts about the film were researched on www.imdb.com and www.wikipedia.org.