Saturday, 21 July 2007

'La Môme'

Tonight I went to see 'La Môme' which I thought was a very powerful film and the performance by Marion Cotillard was incredibly moving. I know there are parts that were made cinematically pretty but as a whole I don't think it painted a rosy picture of Piaf or her life. In fact I think it was unkind to her for the main part and I am afraid that I have to disagree with my fellow blogger (see comments to Paris,je t'aime) who felt that the film was a mess - it worked for me, I know some people have criticised how it jumped backward and forward in time but it didn't leave me confused. When the credits rolled at the end like everybody else I was left feeling stunned - I can't remember hearing a cinema so quiet.

Edith Piaf and Jean Cocteau died on the same day. Cocteau, chivalrous at
the last, obeyed the rule of ladies first. "Ah, la Piaf est morte," he said on
the morning of October 11 1963. "Je peux mourir aussi." [Ah, Piaf's dead. I can
die too."] And then he promptly died of a heart attack. Or so legend has it.

But in these matters, legend is all-important, while what actually happened
concerns only those with no imagination or soul. No doubt this is what was going
through the mind of Piaf's second husband and final lover, the actor Théo
Sarapo, when he put her corpse in his car and headed for Paris shortly after she
died of cancer. He had to race against time to make it look as if the great
French singer had died in her Paris apartment, because that is what her fans
would have expected of her - faithful to no man, but ever faithful to Paris.

It was Piaf's funeral not Cocteau's that brought Paris to gridlock. One of
her lovers, the singer and actor Charles Aznavour (whom Piaf helped to launch in
showbusiness), said that her funeral procession marked the first time since the
end of the second world war that Paris traffic had come to a complete stop.
Because of Piaf's louche life - the lovers, the booze, the drugs - the
archbishop of Paris forbade her a mass; none the less, her funeral at Père
Lachaise was mobbed by 40,000 fans.

Saturday November 8, 2003The Guardian