Why The “Birds of Prey” and “The Little Sparrow” Are A Great Mix

This article was written on Oct 1, 2019 and originally published online on ReelAnarchy on Oct 2, 2019.

PUT ON A HAPPY FACE

Earlier this year, the trailer for JOKER included the classic song “Smile” performed by Jimmy Durante.

Smile” is a song from the classic American songbook. The music was written by silent movie superstar Charlie Chaplin for his 1936 film Modern Times.  Many years later, lyrics were added by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons. The song has been performed by Nat King Cole, Judy Garland and others.

In Modern Times, Chaplin’s character points to his own mouth to indicate that his girl (Paulette Goddard) should smile as they walk off together into the sunset to whatever the future holds.

Using “Smile” in the trailer for JOKER has literal connection to the use of clown make up, and with the dialogue: “my mother always told me to put on a happy face”.

I’d imagine there’s a great deal of irony there too.

HYMN TO LOVE

Now the first trailer for Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn has arrived. And for some reason, it includes another “old” song.  This time it is “If You Love Me” by Edith Piaf (Hymne a L’Amour).

PIAF

Edith Piaf was the famous French singer and cabaret performer of torch songs about love and loss, who had a chequered love life herself.

Piaf had a troubled upbringing and got a lucky break when she was heard singing by an agent and before long she was dubbed “The Little Sparrow” and was the toast of French society.

OBSESSIVE LOVE

The singer met French boxing superstar Marcel Cerdan in 1947 and soon they moved in together and were a major celebrity couple (despite the fact Cerdan was married with children).  Piaf described her relationship with Cerdan as all encompassing, almost obsessive.  He was the love of her life – and she penned Hymne a L’Amour (Hymn to Love) in 1949.

The English lyrics include:

If the sun should tumble from the sky
If the sea should suddenly run dry
If you love me, really love me
Let it happen, I won’t care

When at last our life on earth is through
I shall share eternity with you
If you love me, really love me
Then whatever happens, I won’t care

A month later, whilst training for a rematch with Jack LaMotta, Cerdan planned to see his lover in concert in New York.  The plane crashed in the Azores, killing all on board.  Piaf was devastated and collapsed at the news but still went on stage to sing the song and dedicate it to him.

I think given the relationship between Harley and the Joker that song is the ideal choice.

PS If you haven’t watched the wonderful La Vie En Rose, the biopic of Piaf that won Marion Cotillard her Oscar, you should really check it out.

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is released on February 2020.

For another post on Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn , click here to look at the official posters and a poster analysis completed by young media students.

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