How A Young Brigitte Bardot Rose To Fame

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Henri Vidal (Hervé) et Brigitte Bardot (Virginie) in VOULEZ-VOUS DANSER AVEC MOI ? © STUDIOCANAL
Henri Vidal (Hervé) et Brigitte Bardot (Virginie) in VOULEZ-VOUS DANSER AVEC MOI ? © STUDIOCANAL
Henri Vidal (Hervé) et Brigitte Bardot (Virginie) in VOULEZ-VOUS DANSER AVEC MOI ? © STUDIOCANAL

Brigitte Bardot, the enigmatic French actress and global cultural icon, etched her name into the record of cinematic history through a trajectory marked by defiance, passion, and an unwavering pursuit of her dreams.

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Henri Vidal (Hervé) and Brigitte Bardot (Virginie) in "Voulez-vous danser avec moi ?" © STUDIOCANAL

 

Brigitte Bardot, the enigmatic French actress and global cultural icon, etched her name into the record of cinematic history through a trajectory marked by defiance, passion, and an unwavering pursuit of her dreams. Between her formative years in Paris, the constraints of a strict upbringing she often rebelled against, her artistic pursuits during wartime, and her breakthrough as a model and actress against familial opposition, the rise to fame of a young Brigitte Bardot is a fascinating story, one that could be easily turned into a biopic à la "La vie en Rose". So let's delve into the pivotal moments that shaped her early career, exploring the intersections of love, rebellion, and the cinematic masterpieces that propelled a young Bardot to international stardom. Want to know more about Brigitte Bardot's incredible life? Watch the documentary "Le Mystère Bardot" on TV5MONDEplus available now.

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TV5MONDE USA is the place for all things French. You can watch right now on the streaming platform TV5MONDEplus the classic comedy with Brigitte Bardot Come Dance with me (Voulez-vous dansez avec moi). Coming March, you'll be able to stream as well La Parisienne and Mademesoille Striptease, two other must-see with BB. On top of its streaming platform comes TV5MONDE USA a 24-hour French network that airs over 150 French films every year but also broadcast hours of content around French style, French gastronomy and French art-de-vivre. Finally, you'll also get access to the on-demand channel TV5MONDE French Cinema on Demand which curates 15 French movies every month around a theme, an actor or a director. 

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Early Life and Defiance Against Strict Upbringing

The journey of Brigitte Bardot commenced amidst the cobblestone streets of Paris, where she grappled with the constraints of a conservative upbringing. A spirited and rebellious young soul, Bardot often clashed with the strict norms imposed upon her, laying the foundation for a future marked by defiance and nonconformity. She lived in the 16e arrondissement of Paris, in a well to do family. She had one younger sister Marie-Jeanne Bardot, who also had a small career as an actress.

Artistic Pursuits Amidst Wartime Turmoil

During wartime in Nazi-occupied Paris, Brigitte Bardot found herself confined to the walls of her home, a space that became both a sanctuary and a stage for her burgeoning passion for the arts. Often locked indoors, Bardot sought solace in dancing to the tune of her mom's record player. Determined to refine her newfound love, Bardot joined a private dance class. Recognizing her innate talent and unwavering dedication, she earned a coveted spot at the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris, a defining moment that marked the beginning of her formal training in music and ballet. The conservatoire became the crucible of her artistic aspirations, providing Bardot with the tools to channel her rebellious spirit into a disciplined pursuit of her passions.

Modeling for Elle: A Serendipitous Transition

In the end, Brigitte Bardot dropped dancing and transitioned into the world of modelling, catching the discerning eye of Elle magazine when she was still only a tween. At the tender age of 15, she graced the cover of Elle, one of the youngest to ever do so.

Her ethereal presence on the cover did not go unnoticed, and soon, the film industry came calling. The exposure from Elle magazine served as a catalyst for Bardot's entry into the cinematic sphere. Notably, this led to her first acting offer for the film "Les Lauriers sont coupés" directed by renowned Marc Allégret, although she did not ultimately secure the role.

First Movie Role and the Fateful Encounter with Roger Vadim

Although the role eluded her, the audition proved fateful as she crossed paths with Roger Vadim. Their ensuing love story unfolded against the backdrop of Bardot's parents vehemently opposing their relationship, setting the stage for a tumultuous yet transformative chapter in her life. 

The age difference between Bardot and Vadim was notable, with Bardot being underage at the time while he was 22. Despite the societal norms, the two embarked on a love affair. In response to the mounting pressure, Bardot's parents, recognizing the intensity of their daughter's emotions, imposed a condition: she could only marry Vadim when she turned 18.

True to their commitment, Brigitte Bardot and Roger Vadim married in 1952. The marriage marked a union not only in personal life but also in their professional endeavors. Their collaboration on and off the screen became synonymous with the changing landscape of French cinema.

Watch now the documentary "Le Mystère Bardot" on TV5MONDEplus 

Elle Cover Redux and Breakthrough in Film

Bardot's second Elle cover in 1952 became a harbinger of her cinematic journey. The exposure garnered from the cover led to a small yet significant role in the comedy film "Crazy for Love" (1952), directed by Jean Boyer. Her magnetic presence on screen paved the way for subsequent roles, although still small, in films such as "Manina, the Girl in the Bikini" (1953), "The Long Teeth," and "His Father's Portrait."

Stream Brigitte Bardot's movies and more on TV5MONDEplus

Hollywood Attention and Cannes Film Festival Acclaim

Hollywood beckoned Bardot with a role in "Act of Love" (1953), starring Kirk Douglas, catapulting her into the international spotlight. Her attendance at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953 for the movie solidified her standing as a rising star on the global cinematic stage.

Four Movies that Defined Stardom

Bardot's meteoric rise culminated in four cinematic gems that defined her early career. "Naughty Girl" (1956), a musical directed by Michel Boisrond, showcased Bardot as a troublesome schoolgirl, ranking as the 12th most popular film in France that year. This success was followed by the box-office comedy hits "Mademoiselle Striptease" (1956) and "The Bride Is Much Too Beautiful" (1956) with Louis Jourdan.

Stream Mademoiselle Striptease and La Parisienne on TV5MONDEplus in March

And God Created Woman (1956): The Pinnacle of Bardot's Stardom

The zenith of Bardot's early career was reached with the rom-com "And God Created Woman" (1956), directed by her then-husband Roger Vadim. Starring alongside Jean-Louis Trintignant and Curt Jurgens, a young Bardot portrayed an immoral teenager in a seemingly respectable small-town setting. The film not only captivated French audiences but resonated globally, solidifying Bardot's status as an international sensation.

In 1957, just a year after the release of "And God Created Woman," Bardot and Vadim divorced. Despite the end of their marital relationship, the professional collaboration continued. Bardot and Vadim worked on subsequent projects, including films like "Les Bijoutiers du Clair de Lune" (1958) and "Les Amants de Montparnasse" (1958). From that moment on, Brigitte Bardot started a new career, filled with those same rom-com typical of the era and often shot in Saint Tropez like Come Dance with me (Voulez-vous dansez avec moi), and more ambitious dramas directed by the like of Jean-Luc Godard and Henri-Georges Clouzot.

Stream now Come Dance with me (Voulez-vous dansez avec moi) on TV5MONDEplus