If the term “great crossing” should apply, it is to her, Josephine Baker, and her incredible journey of outbursts and courage, idealism and unconsciousness, impetuosity and freedom. From the misery of his childhood in Saint-Louis (Missouri) to the opulence in his castle of Milandes (Périgord), from the lowlands to the Pantheon. With skill, using precious archives, testimonies from his contemporaries and neighbors, analyzes by historians and anthropologists, the writer Mathieu Palain (1) composes a chanson de geste, in five episodes rich in documents, backed by a setting in original perspective. A very beautiful work on the sound singles out this production in subtle balance on its various elements.
The first episode, probably the most detailed, stands out. Mathieu Palain went to Saint-Louis and confronts Josephine Baker’s childhood with the atmosphere of the time. Ruthless racism and lynchings against blacks were the terrifying setting for little Josephine who “dancing to keep warm”. Tales of exploitation and survival in hostile environments. All the energy of this world star was forged by this relentless adversity, on the run to save himself.
Portrait of an intuitive, instinctive young girl with extraordinary charisma who alone forged her destiny and reversed the course of a predestination to misfortune. The second episode on her conquest of Paris is shimmering with the surprise and wonder that Josephine Baker left in her wake, making her admirers swoon. The other three episodes retrace his unfailing and immediate commitment to the Resistance, the constitution of the rainbow tribe, his excessive generosity and the abyss of the Milandes, before ending on the last years and the tragic apotheosis of his death on stage.
From Monday August 8 to Friday August 12, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., rebroadcast at 9 p.m. and in podcast on france-culture.fr and listening platforms
(1) don’t stop runningInterallié 2021 price (Editions de L’Iconoclaste, 422 p., €19)