Behind the Brel: The Story of Jacques Brel – Part 2: The Existentialist

jacques-brel-cigaretteThis is Behind The Brel, a BBC documentary narrated by Marc Almond on the life and career of Jacques Brel, one of the greatest songwriters and performers of all time.Part 1: An Introduction, Part 3: Hungry for LifeThe Selected Playlist.

Part 2 of the documentary covers the first half of Jacques Brel’s musical career. Leaving Belgium for Paris in the early 50s, he is an idealistic catholic young man when he encounters the sophisticated intelligentsia of Paris’ left bank. Heavily influenced by French existentialist philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus, he becomes more socially aware and starts writing about universal themes such as life, death, loneliness and poverty. Following post war existentialist tradition, he expresses his anger against the military, his fears of loosing his individuality and his hatred for mediocrity and ‘respectable people’.

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Behind The Brel: The Story of Jacques Brel – Part 2: The Existentialist

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