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Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (2010)

Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque) (original title)
Not Rated | | Biography, Drama, Music | 20 January 2010 (France)
1:26 | Trailer

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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.



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





Cast overview, first billed only:
... Serge Gainsbourg / Voix de La Gueule
... Jane Birkin
... Brigitte Bardot
... La Gueule
... Juliette Gréco
... Bambou
... France Gall
... Lucien Ginsburg
... Joseph Ginsburg (le père)
... Olga Ginsburg (la mère) (as Dinara Droukarova)
Philippe Katerine ... Boris Vian
... Elisabeth Levizky
... Fréhel
Ophélia Kolb ... Le Modèle
... 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:





| |

Release Date:

20 January 2010 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life  »


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

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Technical Specs


| (recut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The production was lucky enough to have a five month rehearsal period. 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 »


Referenced in Code Blue (2011) See more »


Je Bois
Written by Boris Vian and Alain Gorger
Originally performed by Boris Vian
Performed by Philippe Katerine (avec l'aimable autorisation de Barclay)
Courtesy of MCA Records
© 1956 - Warner Chapell Music France
(P) 2010 - One World Films
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Was it really two hours ? It felt like five minutes ...
26 January 2010 | by See all my reviews

There was probably a good few hundred reasons to fail that movie about the life of the most famous french song writer but I was happy to find out the director didn't fall in any of these traps. This movie was poetic, touching, elegant and engaging. Retracing Lucien Ginsburg's life with style and a touch of romanticism, the two hours unfolded so quickly that I was almost surprised when the credits started to roll. From his childhood in Nazi occupied Paris to his encounters with Boris Vian or Les Freres Jacques, from his rise to success with Bardot or Jane Birkin, the story marks all the important moments in the life of this unforgettable composer that has left many generations dazzled by his craftsmanship.

Eric Elmosnino is simply gigantic in this role, conjuring all the greatness of Serge Gainsbourg, letting us get a glimpse of its never seen before talent as well as his fragility. The staging of an alter ego representing his genie, pushing and pulling him to become the man we know is right on the spot to express his inner conflict to choose between painting and music. Music is a minor art, the man used to say as he recorded albums upon albums that are still to this day amongst the most compelling creations in french song writing. Many bits of lyrics used throughout the movie are poking the aficionado in the best way possible. 

Avoiding the traps of linear storytelling as it has to respect chronological events, it goes back and forth through time using the protagonist at different periods of his life to put in perspective what goes on in his mind. From young Lucien to l'Homme à Tête de Chou, from the fusion of Serge with his genie to become Gainsbarre, I spent an exquisite moment in the life of a man whose music and lyrical excellence have touched me as a teenager and still remain a defining influence in my life. No need to say the music is beautifully embedded in this graceful biography. 

The only minor inconvenience I could point out is Laetitia Casta that plays Brigitte Bardot without an ounce of talent, but fortunately these scenes are short and quickly forgotten. I recommend this film to anyone that has remotely enjoyed Gainsbourg's artwork at any point in his life for it is an amazing and poetic experience you will not regret. It is brilliantly shot and edited with both rhythm and attention to quiet emotional scenes. It takes you up and down with the protagonist's questioning about the meaning of his life and his descent to hell from which he never came back. Thank you Johan Sfar.

Ugliness is in a way superior to beauty because it lasts.

Serge Gainsbourg


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