This is a little off my normal trajectory, but I had some discussions with friends about the latest film on the life of Edith Piaf. You can read what the critics and reviewers online say, but what I felt after being totally gripped by the passion and poignancy of the biographical portrayal was how the gift from the Creator survives the wildest torments of incarnational existence. In the case of Piaf, the gift emerged despite lack of childhood advantages, coaching, and patronage in her early life and despite more tragedy, morphine, and illness later in life.
This is as it must be because the gifts we have are part of our immortality so it is not at all unreasonable that “Je ne regrette rien” would survive years beyond the grave when the masks of various substances and losses have long since faded from memory.
Thus, in the music, we found the soul whose totally French sound no doubt contributed to the renaissance of French culture and confidence following the devastation of two wars. However, the sound is not just French because it touches the souls of those who listen, giving them courage to continue despite unbelievable obstacles and pain.
I was touched by Piaf and am disinclined to criticize the film because whether one likes this or that about it, it juxtaposes light and dark in a way only a great artist can, and it forces us to see that the light lives in the darkness even when the darkness seems totally despairing.
The film made me think about my own gifts and the gifts of others. For instance, I had the great good fortune to have met David Helfgott in Adelaide in 1990 and to have sat on the piano bench while he played Chopin and sketches from the Grand Canyon Suite and anything else that popped into his imagination. Again, we see that regardless of the devastation of the psyche, the gift remains, and thus it is with all who bring their gifts forward and into the light.
It made me think how difficult we make this process when we put obstacles up in front of souls who for one reason or another do not conform to our concepts of what should be. Our society is trying to crank out better computer programmers and is neglecting much of what gives humanity its raison d’etre.
See the film and see if it touches you as much as it did me.
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2007
First Posted to Subscribers on Posted to Subscribers on 16 August 2007