Tuesday, February 19, 2008

La Vie En Rose

If you're in the mood for a really sad movie, rent La Vie En Rose. It's a French film with English subtitles. My wife and I watched it last night. Whew! It wore us out. Not only is it a long movie, but the subject is a tragic one. It's the true story of Edith Piaf (1915-1963), generally recognized as France's greatest pop singer. The title of the movie is the title of Piaf's signature song.

I must admit I'd never heard of Edith Piaf. As depicted in this film, she was an amazingly talented singer and entertainer. But her life was SO hard. She was abandoned by her parents in early childhood and was raised for some years by her grandmother who ran a brothel. She developed keratitis and was blind for a few years. Her father, a circus performer, eventually took her back and the two of them lived from handout to handout on the street. Her talent as a singer was later discovered and Edith grew to become France's most popular entertainer and an international star. But along the way she became addicted to morphine and alcohol. If the film is accurate, she was also a thoroughly belligerent, self-absorbed person. She died lonely, angry, and sad.

While it's quite an ordeal to watch, this is an important movie. It illustrates the message of Ecclesiastes: all is vanity without God. In Edith Piaf's life you see the aching need of the human heart for love. In a scene near the end of the movie, Edith is interviewed by a magazine reporter. The reporter asks, "If you were to give advice to a woman, what would it be?" Edith replies, "Love." The reporter then asks, "To a young girl?" Edith again replies, "Love." Finally the reporter asks, "To a child?" And Edith again says, "Love."

When the need for love is not met by parents (especially in the critical early years) we carry throughout life a wounded heart that may never be healed. In the movie, a few people tried to supply the pieces missing from Piaf's life. But as Blaise Pascal said, the vacuum in the human heart is God-shaped. No amount of success, fame, or human love can do what only God's love can do.

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