Andrew Birkin on Swinging London, the Beatles Sister Jane Birkin


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If just one daydreams about what movie, music, Hollywood, London and all ports in among felt like in the ’60s and ’70s, writer-director Andrew Birkin’s new photographic memoir, “POV: A Daily life in Images,” is a dreamscape of wonderful days and nights and famous personalities. Starring Birkin’s well-known model-actress-singer sister, Jane Birkin, alongside with her famous husbands, additionally filmmakers from Walt Disney to Stanley Kubrick (for whom he worked for two several years) and festooned with pop stars these types of as the Beatles and Slade as nicely as Hitler’s architect Albert Speer thrown in for great measure, the tome is a swirling kaleidoscope that Birkin paints with vivid shades. Below are a couple edited entries that really should give the reader a truly feel for what the period hath wrought, courtesy of Birkin’s sharp eye on the swinging occasions all those people a long time back.

What follows are some excerpted scenes from the e-book.

By the age of 18, Birkin had currently labored on a couple of U.K.-dependent photographs as a tea boy/gofer, but could increase no more without a union membership or guild card. In April 1964, he set out for Hollywood.

Bash With Walt

At a person celebration given by Hayley Mills’ parents I achieved Walt Disney, who seemed relatively shy and retiring from the normal hubbub. He spotted me on the lookout equally out of drinking water, patted the seat beside him and seemed intrigued by my freight-leaping exploits and common choose on center The united states under no circumstances the moment did I imagine to talk to him about the origins of Mickey Mouse, nonetheless significantly less for a position. Afterwards I experienced lunch at Disney’s studio where by Hayley was capturing “That Darn Cat!” Later on, Disney ushered me to just one aspect. “Hayley tells me you just take her down to Watts?” “Yes,” I responded with enthusiasm — “to exhibit her the other facet of L.A. existence, significantly additional enjoyment than Beverly Hills.” “I really don’t question it,” nodded Walt, “but would you mind waiting till she’s concluded the photograph? See, we’re not insured for that form of factor, and if everything ought to occur to her, God forbid…”

By December I was hankering after the rains of home, and with Hayley again in England I observed no lead to to linger in Tinseltown … Again in London I located my sister Jane on stage in Graham Greene’s “Carving a Statue” taking part in a deaf-mute, swiftly followed by “Passion Flower Hotel” — a musical comedy about a gaggle of English schoolgirls hoping to drop their virginity to the boys in the school next door. It was not extensive before Jane was shedding hers to the composer of the piece — John Barry, far better known for his James Bond scores.

A runner’s position on Hayley’s up coming photograph adopted — “Sky West and Crooked”’ a notable lower over her Disney excursions of contractual obligation, directed by her father, John. I located the area, but even that didn’t enable me get my [union card] — indeed, I was reprimanded for carrying out a union occupation with no 1 — and although it was enjoyment at moments, remaining a gofer to the star is hardly a recipe for contentment. When the photo completed, I commenced scratching all around for any occupation that may well receive me that magic ticket, even if it intended scrubbing flooring in considerably-flung regional Television set studios up in the remote realms of the Scottish Highlands.

In the meantime Jane had succumbed to John Barry’s proposal of relationship, versus the combined information of family and mutual close friends who all deemed John to be a outstanding composer — and a awful husband. Stowing my jealousy, I drove them to Heathrow to catch their honeymoon flight to Rome, but could not resist brushing her lips with a goodbye kiss at the departure gate. Jane later on informed me that John refused to converse to her for the complete flight. I was delighted.

Courtesy of Andrew Birkin

With the Beatles

In 1965, Birkin landed a task on Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A House Odyssey,” originally as a gofer, and ultimately shooting 2nd device helicopter footage and paying 5 months in the Namib Desert supervising pictures for the renowned “Dawn of Man” sequence. When taking pictures finished in 1967 he was requested to be to start with assistant on the Beatles’ film “Magical Mystery Tour.”

I’d in no way been a 1st Ad before, which did not make a difference a lot as the Beatles experienced in no way built a film before.

Normally a initial assistant answers to one particular director, but in this scenario there had been four. In fact it was McCartney’s baby, but ahead of any scene was shot, at Paul’s insistence I’d push throughout the previous WWII airfield in which we were being shooting to fetch Lennon. This was no simple activity as he’d be closeted in his psychedelic Rolls, parked as significantly away from the shoot as achievable. A faucet on the glass and the door would open, discharging a smoke monitor of dope, past which John would be chilling with one particular of the roadies.

“John, Paul desires you just take a appear at the up coming set up.”

“Come in, chill out, have a toke.”

“Uh — nicely I’d appreciate to, but Paul would like you to …”

“If it’s Okay by him, it is Alright by me.”

… I was nonetheless trying to established up “Jude the Obscure,” and asked Paul if he’d give a duplicate of the script to his girlfriend Jane Asher to enjoy Jude’s spouse. Paul appeared at the title web site. “What’s it mean?”

“Well, Jude is the doing work-class hero who desires of becoming a scholar but has neither the class nor the hard cash to get into Oxford.”

“You suggest Jude is a name?”

For the “Magical Thriller Tour” shoot, we had 100 Mecca ballroom dancers for the stop sequence, “Your Mother Must Know,” but when the generator packed in at tea time, I had to ask the dancers if they’d remain an additional pair of several hours until the substitution genny arrived from London. They agreed, but commenced obtaining agitated when two hours turned into 3, then four. Having talked to a handful of, I instructed Paul we could bribe them into being if he and the some others dished out their autographs.

“I’m not likely to indication a hundred bits of paper,” stated John.

“You never have to: I’m a excellent forger.” I informed them how I’d forged their autographs as and when I essential dollars in The united states … The ruse paid out off, and 100 happy dancers stayed late ahead of heading residence nursing their treasured autographs. Maybe I bought my just desserts when the Beatles gave me my initial display screen credit score — with my identify spelled mistaken.

Courtesy of Andrew Birkin

Kubrickian Drama

In 1968 Birkin went again to function for Kubrick, this time on the filmmaker’s Napoleon Bonaparte venture, what some call the greatest unrealized movie of all time.

For Kubrick, Napoleon was quite just “the biggest breath of life to have at any time quickened human clay,” as Chateaubriand known as him, and it wasn’t prolonged before I was a great deal of the identical feeling. My mission? To stick to in Napoleon’s footsteps and photograph his every single piss-quit through his lifestyle, beginning in Paris, to exactly where I headed a couple of months later on in my GT6…

Jane, meanwhile, experienced landed the component in the French motion picture for which she’d auditioned, inspite of her foremost man’s obvious contempt…

“He’s awful!”


“Serge Bourguignon, or Gainsborough or somebody — the guy in the film. He’s meant to be my lover but he’s so arrogant and snobbish — he definitely despises me!”

This was my initially introduction to Serge … I didn’t a lot relish the prospect of Jane swooning in the arms of some Gallic lover when she could be investing time with me — without a doubt, our initial this kind of prolonged time jointly due to the fact childhood — but the far more Jane remonstrated versus this Gallic fiend, the a lot more I felt my scenario threatened. Coming again from a day of photographing Josephine’s bed room at Malmaison, I discovered Jane on the cell phone to her nemesis, but from her diversified expressions I understood her fate was sealed.

Days afterwards, Jane asked me to be a part of them for meal … For my section it was enjoy at 1st sight. Serge was so completely distinctive from any person I’d at any time achieved: shy and flamboyant by turns, with a boy-like lust for exciting and a scabrous feeling of humor. I’d presently experienced many mentors, not least Stanley Kubrick, but special amongst them Serge handled me as an equal. He could converse tiny English and my French was no greater than Jane’s, but we managed to have a energetic discussion about Napoleon, communism and the scholar riots then
gripping Paris.

Andrew Birkin’s “POV: A Lifestyle in Pictures” will be published in France this autumn by Albin Michel
Beaux Livres.

By Harriet