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Jacques Brel in the Marquesas: a documentary looks back on his last trip


Under the aegis of the Foundation dedicated to the work of her father in Brussels, France Brel produced Pacific on the odyssey of the Belgian poet who sailed by sailboat to Hiva Oa, "an island where we do not know who I am".

After 60 days at sea, here I am in the Marquesas.

60 days is a long time.

And the lack of wind wears out patience


On November 22, 1975, Jacques Brel stopped over at Hiva Oa, "

an island where we speak French and where we don't know who I am

", 1500 km from Papeete, in French Polynesia.

The crossing of the Pacific, on his sailboat the Askoy with his partner, the Guadeloupean actress Maddly Bamy, was trying.

But he discovers a Paradise.

The Brussels poet will decide to stay there.

The Belgian singer, who said goodbye to the stage eight years earlier, begins the last chapter of his life, a sequence shrouded in mystery that fuels the craziest rumours.

An original documentary, directed by one of his three daughters, France Brel, the soul of the Foundation dedicated to the gesture of his father, shows the joys, the doubts, the anxieties of the author and performer inhabited by



early morning losers



and the

Last Meal


Photos, fragments of films, unpublished letters and excerpts from interviews allow us to see his moods, - he confessed: "

I live in sawtooth

" -, his torments and his paradoxes.


, a documentary by France Brel


My father's dream was to travel around the world

," says France Brel.

Then she adds to try to give to understand the puzzle of her father's life: “

He wanted to go very far and stay in this very far.

And certainly with the desire to become something else.

But when your name is Jacques Brel, it's not easy


To read alsoFrance Brel tells Jacky, the story of the childhood of Jacques Brel

When the poet laughed at his approaching death

A shadow hangs over this journey: illness, lung cancer which will eventually prevail, on October 9, 1978 at the age of 49.

Health is possible without more.

One day yes, one day nothing, one day no,

” he wrote during his journey.

In July 1975, a Charleroi newspaper,

Le Métropolitain

, announced... his disappearance.


Learned the announcement of my death, it's funny

", he wrote a few months later to his wife, Thérèse Michielsen, known as "



The Last Supper

, Jacques Brel

During these months at sea, he also shares his thoughts on celebrity and its burdens: “

This time, the journalists give the full measure of their greatness.

I am chased from island to island!


Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines, Mosquito.

Stopovers follow one another.

In August 1975, he spent a month off the coast of Venezuela to prepare for the crossing of the Pacific, towards the Marquesas, which was to last sixty days.

Brel “wanted to go see”

The one who repeated, almost like a motto, "

you have to go and see

", did he live good years, at sea then on this small island, far from the tumult of the world?

His wife is convinced that he "

was bored like an old rat


Pierre Perret, who met him in April 1975 on his boat in the West Indies, said that he “

seemed happy to be sailing upstream


The Marquesas

, Jacques Brel

In the swarm of testimonies, one catches the eye, that of his friend, the comedian Raymond Devos, who tries to explain this desire to go to sea, this frenzy of travels: "I believe that he is a

man who deep down bored.

A bored man goes away all the time


His stay is interspersed with returns to Europe, mainly for treatment.

In the summer of 1976, Jacques Brel rented a house on Hiva Oa and sold the Askoy.

This 20-meter sailboat will meet a sad fate after being stranded on a beach in New Zealand.

In the 2000s, two brothers, two enthusiasts, Piet and Staf Wittevrongel, repatriated the wreck to the Flemish coast to renovate it.

At the start of 2023, work is still in progress in the port of Zeebrugge.

The two enthusiasts are hoping for a relaunch soon.


I'm slowly starting to write a few songs again, but my heart is no longer there

", wrote Jacques Brel in the fall of 1976.

Les Marquises

, his last album, highly poetic in inspiration, recorded in Paris, was released at the end of 1977, months before his death.

The rain is transverse, it beats from grain to grain, some old white horses, which hum Gauguin

“, sings Brel about this archipelago of the Marquesas, where he spent most of the last three years of his life.

And where he rests forever.

Monday April 10 and Monday April 24, 2023, at 2.30 p.m. screening of the film Le Pacifique (work strip) with commentary by France Brel.

Place de la Vieille Halle aux Blés 11, 1000 Brussels.

Source: lefigaro

All life articles on 2023-03-25

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