Andrew Birkin on Swinging London, the Beatles Sister Jane Birkin

If a person daydreams about what film, music, Hollywood, London and all ports in among felt like in the ’60s and ’70s, author-director Andrew Birkin’s new memoir, “POV: A Life in Pics,” is a dreamscape of superb days and evenings and famous personalities. Starring Birkin’s famed model-actress-singer sister, Jane Birkin, along with her famous husbands, moreover filmmakers from Walt Disney to Stanley Kubrick (for whom he labored for two several years) and festooned with pop stars these kinds of as the Beatles and Slade as effectively as Hitler’s architect Albert Speer thrown in for good evaluate, the tome is a swirling kaleidoscope that Birkin paints with vivid hues. Here are a couple of edited entries that should give the reader a experience for what the era hath wrought, courtesy of Birkin’s sharp eye on the swinging periods all people a long time ago.

What follows are some excerpted scenes from the e book.

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

Celebration With Walt

At one particular occasion given by Hayley Mills’ parents I satisfied Walt Disney, who appeared fairly shy and retiring from the typical hubbub. He noticed me on the lookout equally out of water, patted the seat beside him and seemed intrigued by my freight-jumping exploits and standard just take on center The us never ever at the time did I believe to talk to him about the origins of Mickey Mouse, nonetheless fewer for a career. Later on I experienced lunch at Disney’s studio the place Hayley was shooting “That Darn Cat!” Later on, Disney ushered me to 1 facet. “Hayley tells me you just take her down to Watts?” “Yes,” I responded with enthusiasm — “to display her the other aspect of L.A. daily life, much additional fun than Beverly Hills.” “I do not question it,” nodded Walt, “but would you brain waiting till she’s finished the picture? See, we’re not insured for that variety of matter, and if anything at all should take place to her, God forbid…”

By December I was hankering after the rains of dwelling, and with Hayley again in England I saw no result in to linger in Tinseltown … Back in London I discovered my sister Jane on stage in Graham Greene’s “Carving a Statue” participating in a deaf-mute, swiftly adopted by “Passion Flower Hotel” — a musical comedy about a gaggle of English schoolgirls making an attempt to get rid of their virginity to the boys in the faculty next door. It was not long in advance of Jane was losing hers to the composer of the piece — John Barry, much better recognised for his James Bond scores.

A runner’s career on Hayley’s upcoming photograph adopted — “Sky West and Crooked”’ a noteworthy minimize higher than her Disney excursions of contractual obligation, directed by her father, John. I located the locale, but even that didn’t support me get my [union card] — in truth, I was reprimanded for carrying out a union task with out one particular — and though it was enjoyment at periods, remaining a gofer to the star is rarely a recipe for pleasure. When the image completed, I started scratching all-around for any position that may possibly earn me that magic ticket, even if it meant scrubbing flooring in significantly-flung regional Television studios up in the distant realms of the Scottish Highlands.

Meanwhile Jane had succumbed to John Barry’s proposal of marriage, against the mixed information of family and mutual close friends who all deemed John to be a good composer — and a lousy husband. Stowing my jealousy, I drove them to Heathrow to capture their honeymoon flight to Rome, but couldn’t resist brushing her lips with a goodbye kiss at the departure gate. Jane afterwards advised me that John refused to talk to her for the whole flight. I was delighted.

Courtesy of Andrew Birkin

With the Beatles

In 1965, Birkin landed a task on Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Place Odyssey,” to begin with as a gofer, and ultimately shooting next device helicopter footage and shelling out five months in the Namib Desert supervising shots for the well-known “Dawn of Man” sequence. When taking pictures ended in 1967 he was asked to be to start with assistant on the Beatles’ movie “Magical Secret Tour.”

I’d never ever been a 1st Advert ahead of, which didn’t issue a great deal as the Beatles experienced never produced a movie right before.

Ordinarily a initially assistant responses to one director, but in this case there had been four. In fact it was McCartney’s baby, but in advance of any scene was shot, at Paul’s insistence I’d drive across the aged WWII airfield in which we were shooting to fetch Lennon. This was no easy process as he’d be closeted in his psychedelic Rolls, parked as far away from the shoot as doable. A tap on the glass and the doorway would open, discharging a smoke display of dope, beyond which John would be chilling with one particular of the roadies.

“John, Paul desires you consider a glance at the future set up.”

“Come in, loosen up, have a toke.”

“Uh — very well I’d really like to, but Paul needs you to …”

“If it is Ok by him, it is Alright by me.”

… I was even now striving to set up “Jude the Obscure,” and requested Paul if he’d give a copy of the script to his girlfriend Jane Asher to play Jude’s spouse. Paul appeared at the title webpage. “What’s it mean?”

“Well, Jude is the performing-course hero who dreams of starting to be a scholar but has neither the course nor the dollars to get into Oxford.”

“You imply Jude is a name?”

For the “Magical Mystery Tour” shoot, we had 100 Mecca ballroom dancers for the conclusion sequence, “Your Mother Need to Know,” but when the generator packed in at tea time, I experienced to check with the dancers if they’d continue to be an further couple of hours until the substitution genny arrived from London. They agreed, but started obtaining agitated when two hours turned into 3, then four. Possessing talked to a number of, I informed Paul we could bribe them into remaining if he and the many others dished out their autographs.

“I’m not heading to sign a hundred bits of paper,” reported John.

“You never have to: I’m a great forger.” I explained to them how I’d cast their autographs as and when I desired money in The us … The ruse paid out off, and 100 pleased dancers stayed late prior to heading house nursing their cherished autographs. Probably I acquired my just desserts when the Beatles gave me my initial display screen credit — with my title spelled erroneous.

Courtesy of Andrew Birkin

Kubrickian Drama

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

For Kubrick, Napoleon was pretty basically “the greatest breath of daily life to have ever quickened human clay,” as Chateaubriand named him, and it wasn’t extended ahead of I was substantially of the identical belief. My mission? To comply with in Napoleon’s footsteps and photograph his every piss-end throughout his daily life, beginning in Paris, to in which I headed a couple months later on in my GT6…

Jane, in the meantime, experienced landed the part in the French movie for which she’d auditioned, in spite of her leading man’s apparent contempt…

“He’s horrible!”


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

This was my 1st introduction to Serge … I didn’t considerably relish the prospect of Jane swooning in the arms of some Gallic lover when she could be investing time with me — certainly, our to start with this kind of extended time alongside one another considering that childhood — but the far more Jane remonstrated in opposition to this Gallic fiend, the more I felt my condition threatened. Coming back from a day of photographing Josephine’s bedroom at Malmaison, I uncovered Jane on the telephone to her nemesis, but from her assorted expressions I realized her destiny was sealed.

Days later on, Jane requested me to sign up for them for dinner … For my portion it was adore at very first sight. Serge was so completely diverse from any person I’d ever met: shy and flamboyant by turns, with a boy-like lust for entertaining and a scabrous perception of humor. I’d previously experienced a number of mentors, not the very least Stanley Kubrick, but exclusive amid them Serge addressed me as an equivalent. He could communicate very little English and my French was no superior than Jane’s, but we managed to have a lively debate about Napoleon, communism and the pupil riots then
gripping Paris.

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