The way I see it: Jane Birkin

Birkin is best known as a star of cult film “Blowup” (1966) and for “Je t’aime . . . moi non plus” r

1 Does art make a difference?

I think so. Annie Castledine directed me in Women of Troy at the National Theatre. She said: “When you have nothing else you have words.” Three days after the end of the production I was in a tank going through Sarajevo. A child of five saw me in the street and said: “If you get out of this place, tell them we’re not primates.” He said he had heard someone say that on the radio. He ran into his apartment and came out with an art book about Sarajevo and said: “This is my country.”

2 Should politics and art mix?

Not necessarily, but pourquoi pas? Look at Ken Loach and Fellini. I am involved with a charity, Anno’s Africa (, which offers an alternative, arts-based education to underprivileged Kenyan children, enabling them to express themselves creatively.

3 Is your work for the many or for the few?

For the many few!

4 If you were world leader, what would be your first law?

So glad I’m not. Ban landmine sales. Review crowded prisons. Help National Health Service hospitals. Help schools.

5 Who would be your top advisers?

Social workers on the spot, surgeons, teachers, researchers, writers, immigrant advisers, actors.

6 What, if anything, would you censor?

I would like to say nothing, but I suppose racial hatred.

7 If you had to banish one public figure, who would it be?

No one I can think of. I’m not for banishment.

8 What are the rules that you live by?

I live by Father’s rules, and my mother’s rules. As well as the ghastly conscience that is mine.

9 Do you love your country?

Yes. But because I do, I want to be proud of it, and as I pay 50 per cent in tax, which I consider right, I want top people to contribute likewise. I feel I have also gained the right to criticise. And also to be wrong.

10 Are we all doomed?


Jane Birkin will be performing at the Roundhouse, London NW1, on 1 March (

This article first appeared in the 04 February 2008 issue of the New Statesman, God