Monday, November 05, 2007

Where credits are due

My recent post about Jan Johansson prompted a further email exchange with the friend who'd sent me the CD. This involved an in-depth analysis of the translation issues raised by Johansson's theme song to Pippi Långstrump (Pippi Longstocking), as heard here.

This, in turn, prompted some thoughts about classic French theme songs and credit sequences from TV series. There's a long tradition of slapping French lyrics onto imported themes, or to write new songs altogether. Haïm Saban's French theme to Starsky & Hutch, for instance, was really cheesy but oddly memorable.

Here are some other favorites, a few harking back to the glory days of the ORTF—French public television and radio, modeled on the BBC by De Gaulle, and for many, many years the only game in town.

Les Globe-trotters This ingenious three-season series in which a couple of buddies go on a round-the-world trip started in 1966, with a theme by Paul Bonneau.

La séquence du spectateur A weekly ritual for me, this show presented a ten-minute excerpt (not a trailer: an uncut excerpt) from various movies.

The puzzle train The word “interlude” refers to something that fills time. They’d run this short—where you had to put together a sentence based on the illustrations on the train—whenever they were running ahead of schedule and had a few minutes to kill.

La vie des animaux This animal show was resurrected several times but the old credit sequence is the best.

Les chevaliers du ciel This series about fighter pilots, which started in 1967, was turned into a movie a couple of years ago. Cool beginning credits here, but most people in France remember the end-credit version sung by none other than Johnny Halliday. Music by the great François de Roubaix, whom I wrote about a little while ago.

And now a couple of more recent theme songs. Visually the credits aren't really inspiring but the music still had an impact: I have no idea who did the French version of Santa Barbara but it embodies the 80s for me. As for the French them to Prison Break, it's by the Marseille rapper Faf Larage. The song was a best-selling single in France in 2006.

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