Gainsbourg by Gainsbourg: An Intimate Self-Portrait
SCR Pierre-Henry Salfati, Marianne Anska
CAM Andrei Lebedyansky, Lionel Perr
EDS Bénédicte Brunet, Pascale Hannoyer
PROD CO Zeta Productions / TF1
“Ugliness is, in a way, superior to beauty, because it lasts.”—Serge Gainsbourg
The definitive filmic "autobiography" of France’s favourite musical son—and an amazingly intimate, formally innovative documentary as well—Pierre-Henry Salfati’s "first-person" chronicle of the life of Serge Gainsbourg is both revelatory and moving. Using only words spoken by Gainsbourg over a lifetime and layering those words with images from Gainsbourg’s unreleased personal film and video footage, Salfati delves deeply into the psyche of a conflicted soul, a man who abandoned painting for the "minor" art form of pop music, a man who considered himself too ugly to perform onstage, a man haunted by both his childhood as a Jewish boy in France during the war and by a dominating, controlling father. But the film is much more than just a psychoanalytic treatise. We see Gainsbourg performing in the early days, cavorting with friends like Michel Simon and Jean Gabin in the 1950s, hanging out with Jane Birkin, being a father and a husband, not just a legend. And the music! It is all here, in all its glory. In the end, though, what comes across is the self-awareness and intelligence of the man behind the persona. A must-see for fans of Gainsbourg, and a treat for those who are new to his legendary status.
“My fame destroys me in a way. It destroys my soul, my conscious and my subconscious. It’s a frightening duality, focusing on yourself and on your non-being. The guy and the showman. And the showman is going to win out. I think I will have enough awareness to avoid being devoured by myself.”—Serge Gainsbourg