Philip French's screen legends No 51: Brigitte Bardot 1934-

Publié le par Philip French

Philip French's screen legends No 51: Brigitte Bardot 1934-

She popularised the bikini, the basque, the pout, guilt-free sex and St Tropez. And she made nudity for movie stars possible, desirable and eventually respectable. Before the French New Wave, Bardot was the harbinger of the new freedom it promised through her 18th film, ... And God Created Woman (1956), directed by her first husband Roger Vadim, which made her the most famous Frenchwoman since Joan of Arc.

Philip French's screen legends No 51: Brigitte Bardot 1934-

The previous 17 films presented her as a cheerful, middle-class gamine, as befitted a businessman's daughter who had trained as a dancer. After ... And God Created Woman, she played provocative sirens driving middle-aged men mad, and enjoying uninhibited sex with her own generation, both on and off the screen, yet always preserving an indestructible innocence.

She was especially good in Claude Autant-Lara's En Cas de malheur (1958) where Jean Gabin, the lawyer defending her on a charge of theft, falls for her, and Henri-Georges Clouzot's La Vérité (1960), where she is standing trial for killing her lover.

Her career peaked in Louis Malle's La Vie privée (1961) and Viva Maria (1965) and Jean-Luc Godard's masterly Le Mépris (1963). La Vie privée exploited her own life as movie star and public icon and ended with her character's suicide. Le Mépris also centred on the business of film-making; as the wife of screenwriter Michel Piccoli, she spent much of her time naked. In the adventure comedy Viva Maria, she and Jeanne Moreau are in a theatre company touring early 20th-century Latin America, inventing the striptease and becoming revolutionary heroines. It was at this time that Simone de Beauvoir wrote Brigitte Bardot and the Lolita Complex.

Like Garbo, Bardot entered films as a teenager and retired before she was 40. Unlike Garbo, she remained on the public stage, first through her campaign for animal rights and later through her contentious statements on immigration and Islam which resulted in fines for incitement to racial hatred.

Jaques Charrier (second husband and father of her only child): "You can't have for yourself what belongs to the whole of the country, whether it is Brigitte Bardot or Camembert cheese."

Georges Pompidou As prime minister, he requested a private screening of Viva Maria. At the end, he turned to Malle and said: "Moreau won!"

Essential DVDs Les Grandes manoeuvres, ... And God Created Woman, En Cas de malheur, La Verité, La Vie privée, Le Mépris, Viva Maria.

Publié dans Articles de Presse

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