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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Des etoiles pleins les yeux

by Jean Roy

Mirkine, a Starstruck Photographer

Translated Monday 23 July 2007, by Helen Robertshaw

A beautiful book: For those who like old films, an anthology of photos by the Mirkine family brings back to life all the splendour of the true film star era. Mirkine Stars, by Stéphane Mirkine. Éditions Flammarion, 368 pages, 45 Euros.

This isn’t a book to take to the beach with you, but we can’t always wait until Christmas time… So without further ado let’s admire this magnificent collection of black and white photographs put together by Stéphane Mirkine, granddaughter of Léo Mirkine (1910-1982) and daughter of Yves Mirkine (1934-1993), who has inherited the one hundred and twenty thousand or more negatives of photos taken by her ancestors. For those who like old films, Mirkine’s name will immediately conjure up images of the dream world of cinema. Who hasn’t seen the photos by the Mirkine father and son, without necessarily recognising the name of the photographer, or knowing that Léo travelled alongside the Communist Party, was part of the wonderful team who worked on the film ‘la Vie est à nous’ (Life is Ours) and an active member, in 1945, of the Committee for the Liberation of the Cinema, who stole from the Germans, seventy boxes of unused film which were intended for the supporters of Franco?

So, let yourself wander, flit through the pages from Ingrid Bergman to Erich von Stroheim, from Michel Simon to Gérard Philipe, from Jean Marais to Fernandel, from Fritz Lang to John Huston. The vision is magical because the photographer was intimately acquainted with the people and their work. Whence the impression of surpassing the moment, captured in all its immediacy in order to condense a life into an image. The more you know about the cinema, the more you will love this book.

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