"Une aventure artistique unique"

Agnès Varda pays tribute to Michel Legrand

by Anne-Katrin Titze and Agnès Varda

Jacques Demy, Agnès Varda, Michel Legrand, and Catherine Deneuve on the set of The Young Girls Of Rochefort
Jacques Demy, Agnès Varda, Michel Legrand, and Catherine Deneuve on the set of The Young Girls Of Rochefort Photo: Agnès Varda

Three-time Oscar-winning composer Michel Legrand has died today in Paris at the age of 86. Legrand's first Oscar was for the song The Windmills Of Your Mind, lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, from Norman Jewison's The Thomas Crown Affair and he won again with the Bergmans for the score of Barbra Streisand's Yentl. On his own he won a best original score Oscar for Robert Mulligan's Summer Of '42.

Jacques Demy and Michel Legrand at the harbour
Jacques Demy and Michel Legrand at the harbour Photo: Agnès Varda

Michel Legrand's most famous collaborations were with Jacques Demy for Lola, Bay Of Angels, The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, The Young Girls Of Rochefort, and Donkey Skin and Agnès Varda's Cleo From 5 To 7 (Cléo de 5 À 7).

Upon hearing of the great composer's passing, Agnès Varda sent the following tribute in French in honour of her and Jacques Demy's longtime professional and personal friendship with Michel Legrand.

"La mort de Michel Legrand atteint notre famille en plein cœur.

"J'étais présente quand Jacques et Michel se sont rencontrés en 1960 et dès Lola jusqu'à la mort de Jacques ils ont partagé une aventure artistique unique.

"J'avais écrit les paroles de la chanson de Lola et de celles de Cléo. Michel a joué lui même le rôle du pianiste-compositeur.

"J'ai partagé cette époque heureuse de leurs vies et leur amitié joyeuse. Nos enfants ont joué ensemble et eux deux, entre deux séances de travail aimaient jouer aux circuits électriques de petites voitures et petits trains …. Les calembours et les bons mots fusaient!

Michel Legrand and Jacques Demy
Michel Legrand and Jacques Demy Photo: Agnès Varda

"La bonne humeur, la mélancolie, l'énergie et la fantaisie étaient alternativement leurs inspirations.

"On connaît, les films magnifiques qu'ils ont fait… On a aimé voir Michel heureux dans les dernières années de sa vie et toujours en création et en concerts.

"Michel et Jacques étant partis maintenant, par le pont transbordeur qui mène à une planète mystérieuse où l'on entend parfois les sirènes des ports de Cherbourg et de Nantes, je m'en tiens à ces quelques mots et je pense à eux avec une infinie tendresse." - Agnès Varda

In English -

"The death of Michel Legrand hit our family right in the heart.

Michel Legrand with Jacques Demy taking a stroll
Michel Legrand with Jacques Demy taking a stroll Photo: Agnès Varda

"I was present when Jacques and Michel met in 1960 and from Lola onwards until Jacques' death they shared a unique artistic adventure.

"I wrote the lyrics to Lola's song and those of Cléo. Michel himself played the role of the pianist/composer.

"I shared with them that happy time of their lives and their joyful friendship. Our children played together and both of them, in-between their working sessions liked to play with the little electric cars and little trains… Puns and witticisms were launched!

"Good spirits, melancholy, energy and fantasy were alternating as their inspiration.

"We are familiar with the magnificent films they made… We loved to see Michel happy in the last years of his life, continuing to create and performing concerts.

"Michel and Jacques having left now across the ferry bridge that leads to a mysterious planet where one hears at times the sirens from the harbors of Cherbourg and Nantes, I'll stick with these few words and think of them with infinite tenderness." - Agnès Varda

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