The hour of rehabilitation for an iconic figure of cinema from the 1960s and 1970s. In the biopic Seberg – landed, Covid-19 obliges, on the video on demand platform Amazon Prime Video, in the absence of a theatrical release – the Australian Benedict Andrews returns to the fate of Jean Seberg. As for Kristen Stewart, she has the heavy task of camping the American actress, pushed to the grave by the relentlessness of the FBI.
In France, the collective memory especially retains Jean Seberg the muse of the New Wave. The blonde boil of Breathless, which gives ” what is “disgusting”? »To Jean-Paul Belmondo. The most cinephiles keep in mind his debut in the Saint Joanof Otto Preminger, where she almost ended up burnt during the pyre scene.
Gossip lovers will remember that Jean Seberg hit the headlines with her marriage to writer and director Romain Gary (Yvan Attal, on screen), with whom she formed a duo as tumultuous as they were legendary, and under whose direction she played twice. An anecdote, as colorful as the couple. Jealous of Clint Eastwood, of whom Jean Seberg had become the lover during the musical western The West Fair, Romain Gary will go so far as to cross the Atlantic to provoke the American to a duel with a revolver. But the future Inspector Harry stepped aside.
His political activism is less well known. If it remains too smooth and sanitized, the film has the merit of highlighting a militant woman, in tune with the upheavals of her time. Close to the civic movement for blacks and “Amerindians”, the star financed, in the 1960s, various organizations, including the Black Panthers. This political commitment has earned him entry into the sights of Edgar Hoover’s FBI. The federal office takes a dim view of his proximity to Hakim Jamal, cousin of Malcolm X, played by Anthony Mackie on screen. The beginning of the descent into hell.
Wiretapping, followed, harassed, the actress loses her footing. A slow sinking in paranoia and alcoholism that tells Seberg , illustrated by a scene: Jean / Kristen Stewart collapses, in tears, in the middle of her Californian room which she has just dismembered with rage, convinced that microphones are hidden everywhere.
Worse, the FBI is engaged in a smear campaign, with the aim of sullying its public image and repainting Jean Seberg in ” perverse sexual“, According to the nickname that we gave him internally. The star must stop being America’s darling in the eyes of federal agents. To achieve its image, to question its integrity, is to discredit the black movement by ricochet. With this in mind, “fake news” on the actress was broadcast in 1970.
Edgar Hoover, who learned that Jean Seberg is pregnant while she is in the middle of a divorce from Romain Gary, suggests to insinuate in the press that she is carrying an African-American baby. The father is actually a Mexican Third World student he met on set. But the alleged “interracial” relationship, considered scandalous at the time, is enough to throw the actress to the public’s vengeance. Dramatic to the end, the affair ends with the death of the child, Nina, two days after her birth. At the funeral, Jean Seberg must expose his daughter in a glass coffin to prove to the public that she is very white … Too late, the federal lies have benefited from the opportunistic complicity of several press titles, including Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times .
Newsweek was convicted following a libel lawsuit won by Jean Seberg and Romain Gary. As for the Californian daily, it did not crack an apology until June 2020. In an article with an explicit title, ” How did the FBI and the Los Angeles Timesdestroyed the life of a young actress fifty years ago“, The second largest American newspaper admits to having echoed,”without fact-checking“,”rumors that the FBI had leaked” for “spoil the imageFrom the actress. “Why did we publish an incorrect, unsourced and unverified hearsay about a personality’s sexuality at the request of the FBI? Shame on us», Regrets theLA Timesin his mea culpa.
From 1970, Jean Seberg, exhausted, once and for all stops filming for Hollywood and leaves the United States for France. The poison of calumny continues to ravage her: the actress is addicted to drugs and alcohol. She tries to end her life several times when her daughter’s birthday falls. In 1978, she appeared on the screen for the last time inThe blue of the originsby Philippe Garrel.
On September 8, 1979, his body and a farewell note to his son Alexandre Diego Gary were found in the back of his Renault, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, near his home. The autopsy report concludes that Jean Seberg succumbed to a fatal cocktail of alcohol and barbiturates. Six days later, the FBI admitted, through the press, having deliberately lied about the actress.