Along with inspiring Noel Gallagher to write one of the greatest love songs ever written, 1968's WONDERWALL would also give Jane Birkin her first great large role even though very few people got the chance to see it at the time.
Filmed just about a year Jane had proved so memorable in BLOW-UP, WONDERWALL would be the first feature film from talented Joe Massot. Massot had previously shot the short film REFLECTIONS ON LOVE in 1966 and would go on to shoot the bombastic Led Zeppelin concert film THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME in 1976. WONDERWALL remains his tour de force though, a flawed but visually stunning film that would match up Jane (at her most breathtaking) with Jack MacGowran and a fascinating George Harrison penned and performed soundtrack.
The film, centering on a lonely older professor who begins spying on the hypnotically psychedelic world of a beautiful young neighbor, isn't quite a masterpiece but it is one of the definitive youth films of the sixties. A film very much alive with invention and spirit that plays better and better as each year passes.
I'm not going to go into a serious look at the film today. I just wanted to post a few shots of Jane in it and around the time of filming it. It is a strangely touching film and one that I like to return to when I am feeling particularly trapped by something in my life.
After years of blurry underground copies, WONDERWALL finally appeared on dvd courtesy of Rhino and it is still available and very much worth getting. Even more collectible though is Rhino Handmade's limited edition box set which is absolutely gorgeous and apparently some copies are still available.
Here is a direct link to that set as well as a photo:
It is impossible for me to not think about the film WONDERWALL when I listen to the amazing Gallagher penned Oasis track that came out ten years ago. Recently voted in a British pole as the second greatest song ever written, Noel's song was originally thought to be about girlfriend Meg Matthews with only the title inspired by the film.
I think a closer listen reveals that the track actually has a lot in common with the plot and themes of the film. Birkin was a perfect choice to play WONDERWALL'S Penny Lane, a lovely reminder that there is always hope just past whatever surrounding wall life has created for you. It's hard for me to listen to Liam Gallagher sing the lines, "Because maybe you're gonna be the one who saves me?
And after all you're my wonderwall."
without thinking of her and this film.