Luxembourg: France 3 to air special documentary about France Gall

by Roy Knoops 1,244 views

In remembrance of artist France Gall, who passed away yesterday, channel France 3 will air a documentary about the iconic singer.

The documentary Toi sinon personne (If not you, nobody) follows the lives and times of the musical couple France Gall and Michel Berger. Historian Franck Ferrand and directors Olivier Amiot and Antoine Coursat present a vivid image of the artistic magic that came from the collaboration between France Gall and her husband Michel Berger.

According to Franck Ferrand:

The couple Gall-Berger embodied the dreams of a whole carefree generation, the baby boom. It was the time when the new ‘mass culture’ was essentially about music.

France Gall became mesmerized by Michel Berger’s music in 1973, and not long after performing vocals for one of his songs, Berger wrote the hit song La Déclaration d’amour (The declaration of love) for her. It was the start of a long and fruitful collaboration, which also signified a turning point in France Gall’s career.

France Gall and Michel Berger married in June 1976, and France would only sing songs written by her husband from then on.

France Gall famously said about her collaboration with Michel Berger: “it will be him and nobody else”, a phrase from which the documentary takes its name:

From archive footage, rare photographs and interviews, the historian Franck Ferrand reveals the secrets of the beautiful complicity of the Berger-Gall couple. An artistic and sentimental collaboration that greatly enriched the French song.

France Gall & Michel Berger: Toi Sinon Personne is broadcast this evening, Monday 8 January, from 20:55 CET, on France 3.

About France Gall

France Gall (born Isabelle Geneviève Marie Anne Gall, Paris, France, 1947) was a French singer, daughter of lyricist Robert Gall (who wrote for artists such as Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour) and singer Cécile Berthier.

She adopted the stage-name France to avoid confusion with another French singer named Isabelle, Isabelle Aubret (winner of Eurovision 1962 and 3rd place at Eurovision 1968).

France Gall began her career as an icon of the yé-yé (from English yeah! yeah!) movement, a musical style that emerged in France in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, usually featuring young female singers who were deliberately naive yet seductive at the same time. France Gall would later, successfully, distance herself from the yé-yé style.

Gall and Eurovision

France Gall represented Luxemburg at the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Naples, Italy. She eventually won with her entry Poupée de cire, poupée de son, a song in the yé-yé style composed and written by famous French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, receiving 32 points.

As in many yé-yé songs, the lyrics of Poupée de cire, poupée de son are somewhat controversial and open to interpretation, conveying sexual undertones.

France Gall, who was 17 at the time, later stated she was unaware of the wordplay in the song, and distanced herself from it. However, Poupée de cire, poupée de son became a huge hit across Europe and is still one of the most beloved Eurovision-evergreens.

Poupée de cire, poupée de son also marked the introduction of more modern and youthful music into the Eurovision Song Contest.

Winning for Luxemburg, France Gall and Serge Gainsbourg also received criticism from their native country France for representing (and winning for) another country.

Yet France also did quite well in the Eurovision Song Contest 1965, placing 3rd with N’avoue jamais by Guy Mardel.

France Gall continued her successful career, re-inventing herself various times.

From the mid-1970’s she started a fruitful collaboration with artist Michel Berger (born Michel Jean Hamburger), who would become her husband. In 1987 France Gall had an international hit with the song Ella, elle l’a (Ella, she’s got it), Michel Berger’s tribute to artist Ella Fitzgerald (yet also a protest against racism).

Later life

Pauline, France Gall’s and Michel Berger’s daughter, was born with cystic fibrosis and passed away in 1997, aged 19. The couple also have a son, Raphaël Hamburger, who is a music supervisor.

Michel Berger passed away in 1992 (aged 44) and France Gall was diagnosed with, and subsequently successfully treated for, breast cancer in 1993.

The artist gradually retreated from the public eye, and in 2001 a farewell documentary France Gall par France Gall was made, which was watched by millions of people on French TV.

France Gall’s health was fading in the past years, as she again battled cancer. On Sunday, 7 January, France Gall passed away due to a lung infection complicated by cancer, aged 70.

ESCToday sends sincere condolences to France Gall’s family, friends and fans. She will always be remembered as one of France’s most iconic singers and one of the brightest stars of Eurovision.