“La Vie en robots”? More than 60 years after her death, legendary French singer Edith Piaf will come to life in a new biopic that will use AI to recreate her voice and image.
Warner Music Group announced that it has partnered with Piaf’s estate for “Edith,” set to be a 90-minute film set in Paris and New York from the 1920s to the ’60s. (Piaf, known as the “Sparrow of Paris,” died Oct. 10, 1963.) The film will be narrated by an AI-generated facsimile of Piaf’s voice and promises to “uncover aspects of her life that were previously unknown.”
“Animation will provide a modern take on her story, while the inclusion of archival footage, stage and TV performances, personal footage and TV interviews will provide audiences with an authentic look at the significant moments of Piaf’s life,” the music company said in announcing the project.
Warner Music Entertainment is working with production company Seriously Happy to develop the biopic. A proof of concept has been created, and Warner Music Entertainment plans to team up with a studio to develop the full-length film.
According to Warner Music, AI technology trained on hundreds of Piaf’s voice clips and images — some of which are over 80 years old — will allow for her “distinct voice and image to be revived to further enhance the authenticity and emotional impact of her story.” Recordings from her original songs will be used in the film, including iconic hits such as “La Vie en rose” and “Non, je ne regrette rien.”
“Edith” is based on an original idea from Julie Veille and written by Veille and Gilles Marliac. The duo are working alongside Warner Music Entertainment president Charlie Cohen to bring the script and AI technology to life through the feature-length film.
“It has been the greatest privilege to work alongside Edith’s estate to help bring her story into the 21st century,” Veille said in a statement. “When creating the film, we kept asking ourselves, ‘If Edith were still with us, what messages would she want to convey to the younger generations?’ Her story is one of incredible resilience, of overcoming struggles, and defying social norms to achieve greatness – and one that is as relevant now as it was then. Our goal is to utilize the latest advancements in animation and technology to bring the timeless story to audiences of all ages.”
Catherine Glavas and Christie Laume, executors of Edith Piaf’s estate, said: “It’s been a special and touching experience to be able to hear Edith’s voice once again — the technology has made it feel like we were back in the room with her. The animation is beautiful and through this film we’ll be able to show the real side of Edith — her joyful personality, her humor and her unwavering spirit.”
Warner Music released a still image from the “Edith” proof of concept:
Alain Veille, CEO of Warner Music France, commented: “Edith is one of France’s greatest ever artists and she is still a source of so much pride to the French people. It is such a delicate balancing act when combining new technology with heritage artists, and it was imperative to us that we worked closely with Edith’s estate and handled this project with the utmost respect.”
Piaf has been the subject of several documentaries and films, including 2007’s “La Vie en Rose,” starring Marion Cotillard in an Academy Award-winning turn as the French songstress.
Pictured (top): Edith Piaf performing at the Olympia, Paris, in December 1960