La Vie en Rose (2007)
Frequently Asked Questions
La Vie en Rose is based on a script written by screenwriters Isabelle Sobelman and Olivier Dahan. However, many of the scenes in the movie seem to be paralleled in Edith's biography The Wheel Of Fortune: The Autobiography of Edith Piaf (1958) by Edith Piaf. It would not be a surprise to learn that the writers consulted Edith's biography.
Literally, la vie en rose translates as life in pink. Figuratively, it is similar to the English idiom life through rose-colored glasses, i.e., optimistic, rosy, idealized.
"La môme" (English: "the kid") is the nickname by which Édith Piaf (played by Marion Cotillard) was known in France and the title under which this movie was released in France. When Édith Giovanna Gassion was discovered at the age of 20 by nightclub owner Louis Leplée (played by Gérard Depardieu), he was so impressed with the big voice coming from this tiny girl (Édith was all of 4 feet 8 inches) that he nicknamed her "La môme Piaf", variously translated as "little Sparrow", "waif Sparrow" or "kid Sparrow"—or "Sparrow waif" / "Sparrow kid". The movie was released as "La Vie en Rose" for the English-speaking market, most likely because Édith had stopped using "La Môme Piaf" as her stage name by the time she became world-renown simply as "Édith Piaf".
No. Cotillard lip-synched the songs she was seen singing, which was no easy feat. Cotillard has been quoted in many interviews telling of the time and effort she put into learning to stand like Piaf, gesture like Piaf, and even breathe like Piaf.
Most of the time. French singer Jil Aigrot is credited with the vocals for some of Piaf's songs, particularly those from Piaf's younger years, songs for which there are no recordings by Édith Piaf, or where they were presented in a manner different from recordings made by Édith Piaf (i.e., "Mon Homme", "Les Mômes de la Cloche", "Mon Légionnaire", "De Gris", "L'Accordéoniste", "Comme un Moineau", "Les Hiboux", and "Padam Padam"). "Frou Frou" is jointly credited to Lucile Panis and Marion Cotillard. Child singer Cassandre Berger performed "La Marseillaise". By the way, Jil Aigrot has recently released an album of Piaf songs called Words of Love: The Voice of Jil Aigrot.
Following is a list of all the songs from La Vie en Rose in the order that Édith (Marion Cotillard) sang them. Except where noted, they were taken from actual recordings made by Édith Piaf.
Heaven Have A Mercy is sung during the first scene when Édith faints.
Milord is sung when Édith meets an American in NY and walks over to a recording studio.
Rien De Rien starts with blind 5-year-old Édith (played by Manon Chevallier) in the street; ends with Édith walking into a pole.
La Marseillaise* is sung when 10-year-old Édith (played by Pauline Burlet) is told by her father to sing something.
Cri Du Coeur plays while teenage Édith & Mômone (played by Sylvie Testud) run through the street together.
De Gris** is sung when Édith sings on the street with Mômone and the policeman agrees to look the other way.
Comme un Moineau** is sung after Édith has a run in with her mother and is seen for the first time by Louis Leplée.
Mon Homme** is what Édith sings at her audition for Louis Leplée.
La Môme de la Cloche** is sung at Édith's debut at Louis Leplée's cabaret.
Les Hiboux** is played during the first montage of newspaper clippings.
L'Étranger plays at the New Year's Eve party and ends on a record player in the garden.
Mon Légionnaire** is what Édith sings when Raymond (played by Marc Barbé) scolds her about failing to enunciate.
Frou Frou*** is sung in the bar with her father after Édith walks out on Raymond.
Mon Légionnaire** is sung again when Édith returns to work with Raymond.
La Foule plays during the second montage of newspaper clippings.
La Vie En Rose is sung in English at the concert after Édith's date with Marcel (played by Jean-Pierre Martins).
L'Accordéoniste is sung when Édith collapses onstage and is carried off.
Padam Padam** is sung when Édith returns to the stage.
Mon Dieu plays during the boxing match.
La Vie en Rose plays in the background when Marcel flies away.
L'Hymne à L'Amour is sung following Marcel's death.
Mon Manège à Moi plays when Édith and her friends are riding in the car in California.
Les Hiboux** is being sung when Édith learns that her daughter Marcelle (played by Maureen Demidof) is in the hospital.
Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien is Édith's closing song.
* = sung by Cassandre Berger
** = sung by Jil Aigrot
*** = credited to Lucile Panis and Marion Cotillard
Lyrics to these songs can be found on various websites, e.g., here.
Some of them are available here.
Those were morphine injections. Édith had a long battle with morphine addiction that began in 1951 when she was injured in not one but two car accidents. It was the second accident, in which she and Charles Aznavour, one of her protégés, were passengers that landed Édith in the hospital with a broken arm and two broken ribs. She was given heavy doses of morphine as a pain-killer and became addicted. Also battling severe rheumatoid arthritis and a third car accident seven years later, she would shoot herself as many as 10 times a day. In her autobiography, The Wheel Of Fortune: The Autobiography of Edith Piaf (1958), Édith wrote, "For four years I lived almost like an animal or a madwoman: nothing existed for me beyond the moment I was given my injection and felt at last the soothing effect of the drug." She describes how, in a pinch, she would inject herself right through her skirt and stockings, moments before going on stage. When asked why she took morphine, she was quoted as saying: "Because it helps me to ignore my body."
Louis "Papa" Leplée was murdered in his apartment at 83 Avenue de la Grande Armée on 6 April, 1936, barely six months after he discovered Édith singing in the street, dubbed her "La Môme Piaf", and gave her a job singing in his cabaret, "Le Gerny". The murder was tied to mobsters, some of whom Édith knew. The press went wild, splashing her picture all over the tabloids and calling her a suspect. Paris audiences grew so hostile that Édith was forced to leave the city. She was later cleared and returned to Paris in 1937. The real murderer of Louis Leplée was never officially determined.
Whether or not Édith actually had visions of Ste Thérèse de Lisieux or whether Ste Thérèse had a hand in curing Édith's eye inflammation, which most biographers attribute either to keratitis, iritis, or conjunctivitis, Édith herself believed it to be true. In her autobiography, The Wheel of Fortune, Édith tells how she was taken by her grandmother to the shrine of Ste Thérèse to pray for a miracle. Ten days later, Édith could see again. From then on, Édith believed that the saint took care of her, and she never failed to carry with her an image of Ste Thérèse.
Most Piaf biographers claim that she died of liver cancer. However, tragedy, hardship, and poor health plagued Édith for most of her short life. In her early years, Édith was abandoned, suffered from poor nutrition, and lived in the streets of Paris. As a young child, she experienced temporary blindness due to an inflammation of the eyes (referred to in various biographies as keratitis, conjunctivitis, or iritis). She was a heavy drinker of alcohol during her earlier years and became addicted to morphine following a serious car accident in 1951. In her later life, Édith suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis and another serious car accident in 1958 and has admitted to injecting herself with morphine as many as 10 times a day. A few months after the last car accident, Édith collapsed while performing in New York and endured major surgery for a perforated ulcer and internal hemorrhaging. Ignoring the advice of her friends and doctors, she continued her singing career, collapsing on stage several times in mid-performance. Diagnosed with liver cancer in the early 1960s, she returned to her villa in Plascassier near Cannes where she died on 11 October 1963, attended by her second husband Théo Sarapo, her nurse Simone Margantin, and Théo's sister Christie Laume. According to Laume, the actual cause of Édith's death was a cerebral aneurysm. See here to read Laume's short description of Edith Piaf's death.
Several reasons have been postulated, e.g., scenes of Édith's activities during the war were shot but ended up on the cutting room floor, the director was afraid he couldn't find a balance between too much and too little about World War II so dodged it entirely, it might have been too much of a distraction from the fact that the movie was not about the war but about Édith Piaf, the French may have thought of her as a traitor for entertaining Germans, film length, cost effectiveness, the fact that not much is known about Édith's activities during the war, etc. and etc.
What is known about Édith's activities during World War II is that she was considered to be a marraine de guerre (godmother of war), a person who "adopts" soldiers and sends them letters, cigarettes, and food parcels. Because of this, she was welcomed as an entertainer of French prisoners in German stalags. In doing so, she was able to smuggle in a few other things, like compasses and forged sets of identity papers, to help them escape. In a short biography of Édith Piaf written by Christie Laume (the sister of Édith's second husband, Théo Sarapo), Laume tells how Édith posed for pictures with French prisoners. When Édith returned to France, she made individual passports for the prisoners, using the pictures taken during her visit. When she went back to sing for them, Édith gave each one a passport that brought them to freedom.
In her autobiography, Édith describes how she and Sacha Guitry put on a show to raise money for the families of 50 French soldiers who had been recently killed when their stalag was bombed. In the Wikipedia entry for Édith Piaf, citations are provided that tell how Édith gave the Jewish composer of L'Accordéoniste, Michel Emer né Michel Rosenstein, sufficient money to enable him to hide during the war. It also describes how Édith would go into concentration camps with her small band of accompanists and come out with a dozen or more, claiming them as members of her troupe. In this way, she is said to have saved over 100 people, until the Nazis realized that she came out of the camps with more accompanists than she went in, and they stopped inviting her.