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Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (2010)

Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque) (original title)
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A glimpse at the life of French singer Serge Gainsbourg, from growing up in 1940s Nazi-occupied Paris through his successful song-writing years in the 1960s to his death in 1991 at the age of 62.


Joann Sfar


Joann Sfar (graphic novel), Joann Sfar (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
7 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Eric Elmosnino ... Serge Gainsbourg / Voix de La Gueule
Lucy Gordon ... Jane Birkin
Laetitia Casta ... Brigitte Bardot
Doug Jones ... La Gueule
Anna Mouglalis ... Juliette Gréco
Mylène Jampanoï ... Bambou
Sara Forestier ... France Gall
Kacey Mottet Klein ... Lucien Ginsburg
Razvan Vasilescu ... Joseph Ginsburg (le père)
Dinara Drukarova ... Olga Ginsburg (la mère) (as Dinara Droukarova)
Philippe Katerine Philippe Katerine ... Boris Vian
Deborah Grall ... Elisabeth Levizky
Yolande Moreau ... Fréhel
Ophélia Kolb Ophélia Kolb ... Le Modèle
Claude Chabrol ... Le Producteur Musique de Gainsbourg


Lucien Ginsburg, a rebellious French Jewish boy with a grotesque imagination, hates playing the piano like his father, a bar professional, and manages to be admitted to Montmartre Academy as a painter, where he befriends an SS officer who helps him survive the occupation. After the war, he chooses to become a performing artist and adopts the stage name Serge Gainsbourg. His unorthodox songs bring him success, even his parents's approval, and lots of lovers, yet his marriages are all utter failures. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama | Music


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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French | English | Russian

Release Date:

20 January 2010 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life See more »


Box Office


€11,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

€2,810,500 (France), 24 January 2010, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$25,189, 4 September 2011, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$230,311, 11 December 2011
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (recut)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Director Joann Sfar spent his boyhood enthralled by the mystique of Serge Gainsbourg. He moved to Paris as an adult expressly to meet his idol but unfortunately Gainsbourg died of a heart attack a month later. See more »


In the 135 minute version of the film a nightclub reveler laughs about Gainsbourg being parodied on 'Guignols de l'info' (a French puppet show in which celebrities are mocked) but in the same scene Gainsbourg meets Bambou for the first time (his last wife). He married Bambou in 1981 but the Guignols were only created in 1988. See more »


[first lines]
Lucien Ginsburg: Can I put your hand in mine?
Girl: No, you're too ugly.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"Pour Lucy" i.e. this was Lucy Gordon 's last film. See more »


Featured in De wereld draait door: Episode #5.128 (2010) See more »


Baudelaire (Le Serpent qui Danse)
Performed by Eric Elmosnino
Original song ("Baudelaire") performed by Serge Gainsbourg
© 1962 - Warner Chapell Music France
Melody Nelson Publishing
(P) 2010 - One World Films
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Lowlife bohemia collides with 50's Hollywood
21 October 2010 | by cliffhanley_See all my reviews

The life story of Serge Gainsbourg had to be filmed, and as he's one of the famous Frenchmen who aren't in fact Belgian, it's only a surprise that it took so long. That his life spanned the Nazi occupation to the rise of Disco would stretch credibility if this were fiction, but as it's all more or less true the director, who is already an accomplished graphic artist, manages to lift it to the level of slightly absurd fiction. Mixing in animation, self-consciously stagey sets and a life-sized puppet as Gainsbourg's dreaded alter ego.

Even the sordid lowlife is given the big treatment, and the early days in the garret look unashamedly glamorous as they would if re-imagined for an opera set or a Salvador Dali dream sequence, as director Joann Sfar lays it on with a trowel.

The episodic nature of the story gives it a rather patchy feel though, and I couldn't help thinking that one or two episodes, especially the cute Hollywood-style musical scene with Brigitte Bardot, could have been shorter. Bardot was just one of the high-profile women Gainsbourg captured, and so was the muse of the existentialists, Juliette Greco.The casting is pretty uncanny with the possible exception of Greco, who was never that model-thin.

Gainsbourg has always been, at least outside France, more famous for being cool than for his music. But his reworking of La Marseillaise which so upset the rightwing patriots of the Seventies was nothing but excellent. I'll go back just to hear that Sly and Robbie riddim one more time.

Quite a substantial feast but it's worth building up an appetite in advance. And of course, you get Jane Birkin and... That Song.

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