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‘And God created Woman’

Sex symbol and screen star, animal rights activist and sympathizer of the French right: Brigitte Bardot has been a controversial personality throughout her life. Recently she celebrated her 80th birthday.

Brigitte Bardot was hailed as the biggest sex symbol in cinema beside Marilyn Monroe. In the mid-1950s, she had her breakthrough with the film “And God Created Woman.” The movie was directed by her then-husband, director Roger Vadim. In the following years, he had a huge impact on the image of the actress: Bardot became the sensual and taboo-breaking icon of world cinema.

It all started with modeling

Brigitte Bardot started her modeling career at the age of 15 and quickly became one of the most sought after French models. Born in Paris into a conservative Catholic family, she did not please everyone when she started flaunting her body in front of the word’s eyes at a young age. Many perceived this as a provocative act.


Scandalous movie star

As a movie star, Bardot continued to cause scandals and caught just as much attention with her marriages and affairs as she did with her films. She became one of the most photographed women in the world when European paparazzi showcased her romantic involvement with singer Sascha Diestel in 1958. At that time, she had already been divorced once. She would later get married three more times.


Working with Jean-Luc Godard

Brigitte Bardot has starred in over 40 films. But despite the fact that she brought something special to these movies, many of the films have already been forgotten and from an artistic point of view, only half a dozen of her films will be remembered. Her most notabe film was Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 film “Le mépris” (“Contempt”), in which she starred next to actor Jack Palance (pictured above).


Viva Maria

Next to Godard, her fellow countryman Louis Malle was the most important director for her career. Bardot and Godard worked together a total of three times. In 1965, she acted in Godard’s Western comedy “Viva Maria.” The second pout pictured above belongs to actress Jeanne Moreau, who joined her on the film. Together the two divas delighted their audience and caused many laughs.


Brigitte Bardot

Behind the scenes lingers drama

Behind the glamorous surface, Bardot’s private life was filled with drama. She experienced nervous breakdowns, abortions, diseases and even attempted suicide from the start of her career. The birth of her son in 1960 meant only brief happiness. Soon afterwards, she left the father’s child – actor Jacques Charrier – and began an affair with his colleague Sami Frey.


Brigitte Bardot

Jet set connection

Particularly sensational for the public was Bardot’s relationship to German industry heir Gunter Sachs. They first met in the spring of 1966. Sachs courted Bardot by flying a helicopter over her villa on the French Riviera and dropping hundreds of roses. Shortly afterwards, they got married in Las Vegas. But the marriage ended in divorce in the fall of 1969.


Brigitte Bardot

Legendary Bardot

Bardot didn’t just fascinate tabloid press and her cinema audience. Some intellectuals were also captivated by Bardot and started including her in their works. In 1959 Simone de Beauvoir wrote a famous essay about her, titled: “Brigitte Bardot and the Lolita Syndrome.” In her essay, the famous philosopher writes: “She eats when she is hungry and makes love with the same unceremonious simplicity.”


Brigitte Bardot

Professional decline

Even though Bardot was still a star, she didn’t appear in another remarkable film after 1967. The 1971 movie, “Petroleum Girls,” which also had actress Claudia Cardinale in it (pictured above), was a typical product of the time: famous cast, expensive production, but artistically not very inspiring. After that film, Bardot would only appear in two more films.


Brigitte Bardot

Animal rights activist

At the young age of 40, the actress withdrew herself from film and committed her life to the protection of threatened and tortured animals. She had discovered her love of animals at an even younger age and eventually became one of the world’s most influential animal rights activists.

Leaving traces in cultural history

Today, Brigitte Bardot is a controversial figure. For ten years she was one of the best known and most successful actresses in world cinema. Her private life dominated the headlines. Artists such as Andy Warhol painted her (see picture above). Her love for animals deserves respect. But her commitment to the far-right party in France has also sparked controversy in her home country.

Author: Jochen Kürten/sm

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan

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01.10.2014 | 12:47