Edith and Marcel (1983)
"Édith et Marcel" (original title)

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The world's most popular entertainer and Europe's greatest boxer: the film puts the love affair of these two national heroes against a backdrop of the end of World War II, hotel suites in ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Evelyne Bouix ...
Edith Piaf / Margot de Villedieu
Jacques Villeret ...
Jacques Barbier
Francis Huster ...
Francis Roman
Marcel Cerdan Jr. ...
Jean Bouise ...
Charles Gérard ...
Micky Sébastian ...
Marinette Cerdan
Maurice Garrel ...
Margot's Father
Ginette Garcin ...
Philippe Khorsand ...
Jo Longman
Jany Gastaldi ...
Candice Patou ...
Margot's Sister
Tanya Lopert ...
English Teacher


The world's most popular entertainer and Europe's greatest boxer: the film puts the love affair of these two national heroes against a backdrop of the end of World War II, hotel suites in New York, transatlantic plane flights, Cerdan's loss of the world middleweight title to Jake Lamotta, and Piaf's gift for tragic love songs. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Release Date:

13 April 1983 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Edith and Marcel  »

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Did You Know?


Dedicated to Patrick Dewaere, who committed suicide in the beginning of the shooting. He was replaced by 'Marcel Cerdan Jr'. who plays the role of his own father, the boxer Marcel Cerdan. See more »


Le Fanion de la Légion
Written by Raymond Asso and Marguerite Monnot
Performed by Mama Béa
See more »

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User Reviews

Piaf may have been the sparrow, but here she's a tiresome, childish, selfish, jerky, squawking parrot.
12 August 1999 | by (Dublin, Ireland) – See all my reviews

It's easy to laugh at Claude Lelouch, and most critics do. He is blissfully devoid of genius, but not necessarily of interest. His biggest problem is that he has humble skills, but grand pretensions. He's seen, like the rest of us, great movies, and thinks that if, say, Ophuls used a particular tracking shot, that if he completely replicates it, he'll be great too, not realising that the initial shot belonged to a fully-worked out style designed to convey meaning, and a particular view of the world. It's not that Lelouch is all style and no substance - the usual complaint; he doesn't know that style IS substance.

And yet audiences flock to his pictures (apparently he is the most successful 'foreign-language' (what a horrible term) filmmaker in English-speaking countries), and dozens of important stars with little sense (or just a great deal of cynicism) queue up to decorate them. Edith and Marcel is an exception. There are recognisable faces (especially a humiliating turn by the once sublime Brialy), but they are relegated to the margins of the film's great thesis: Lelouch On Piaf.

To his credit, Lelouch does try to tackle the Piaf myth, and her status as symbol, saint, essence etc. of the French people. For instance, many of her greatest love songs are third person narratives, and so he mingles her most notorious love story with that of an imaginary couple, one of whom is played by the same actress as Piaf, as if to suggest that Edith and Marcel are only larger-than-life embodiments of all the passions, pains and loves of France.

Unfortunately, to adequately contextualise Piaf, one would need a firm grasp of French history, something Lelouch spectacularly lacks. Like many of his films, Edith and Marcel has a significant historical backdrop, in this case World War II. But it's not a World War II you or I might recognise - no savage Germans, no concentration camps, no collaborators; indeed, military prison seems like a hoot. Edith's and Marcel's 'symbolic' resistance is glossed over in a couple of offhand lines, leaving one dissatisfied and suspicious.

This failure of history extends to Piaf's music. What should be the glory of the film is ruined by 'artistic' distortions, fatuous contextualisation, and the sacrilege of getting some heinous impersonator to 'do' Piaf to Francis Lai's more 'contemporary' (arf!) music, both unforgivably denying history, and suggesting that Piaf could be improved upon.

None of this would really matter if the film was entertaining. Some of Lelouch's monstrosities are so preposterous as to become compelling. But here - in contrast to Piaf, whose songs were compact, passionate, melodramatic, melancholic, tragic; packed with gangsters, whores, young lovers: the outsiders - the film's story is laborious; the insistent, self-satisfied, handheld camerawork is tiresome; the barrage of showy shots for their own sake is wearing; the confusion with beauty of the most ghastly bad taste is embarrassing; the film's hurtling sense of momentum when there is actually nothing moving is exasperating; the replacement of acting with mannerism is infuriating.

That a film about such an extraordinary woman, about that most cinematic of sports - boxing; with so much hysteria and shrieking and talk about love and the Eternal; with so many quotes and allusions to classic movies, books and music, should be so passionless, cold and dull is unfathomable. The film's only redeeming feature is the cameo by Charles Aznavour, as sad and self-effacing as ever (playing his youthful self as an old man 35 years later!), singing some narratively pointless, but beautiful songs.

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