Follow TV Tropes


Music / Émilie Jolie

Go To
Cover of the original 1979 album.
Click to see the cover of the 1998 version. 

Émilie Jolie is a "musical tale" conceived by French Singer-Songwriter Philippe Chatel in 1979. First released as an album, it went on to be adapted into a TV Special, a musical and an animated film.

Written in dedication to Chatel's daughter (who is also named Émilie), the story is about the titular character who is alone in her room at night and reads a picture book. Accompanied by The Narrator (and The Clock in the 1998 version), she discovers various characters, notably The Witch who is longing for a Charming Prince. Émilie sets out to find him by turning the pages and discovering a variety of characters.

The first version of the tale includes a wide cast of French Chanson musical artists, including Henri Salvador, Françoise Hardy, Julien Clerc, Robert Charlebois, and other contemporaries. Phillipe Chatel would re-record the album in 1998 with a different cast of artists, new characters and different arrangements.

It is now known as one of France' most famous musicals and Phillippe Chatel's greatest work.

Cast of the 1979 version

  • Séverine Vincent as Émilie Jolie
  • Henri Salvador as The Narrator
  • Robert Charlebois as The Blue Rabbit
  • Julien Clerc as The Great Bird
  • Sylvie Vartan as The Ostrich
  • Françoise Hardy as The Witch
  • Isabelle Mayereau as The Umbrella Ribs
  • Georges Brassens as The Hedgehog
  • Bernard Paganotti as The Alien
  • Yves Simon as The Small Pebble
  • Alain Souchon as The Cock
  • Laurent Voulzy as The Donkey
  • Eddy Mitchell as The Wolf
  • Louis Chedid as The Raccoon
  • Phillippe Chatel as The Novice Prince Charming

Cast of the 1998 version:

  • Natacha Boulenger as Émilie Jolie
  • Jacques Dutronc as The Narrator
  • Michel Fugain as The Blue Rabbit
  • Johnny Hallyday as The Great Bird
  • Maurane as The Ostrich
  • Axelle Red as The Witch
  • Zazie as The Umbrella Ribs
  • Khaled as The Hedgehog
  • Danielle Darrieux as The Clock
  • Phillippe Chatel as The Alien
  • Alain Chamfort as The Small Pebble
  • Arnold Turboust as The Cock
  • Étienne Daho as The Donkey
  • Lara Fabian as The Sad Little Flower
  • Alain Bashung as The Wolf
  • Art Mengo as The Raccoon
  • Florent Pagny as The Novice Prince Charming

Tracklist (italicized songs are exclusive to the 1998 album)

  1. "Song of the Young Girl in the Empty Bedroom" (sung by The Narrator)
  2. "The Blue Rabbits Gathering's Song"
  3. "Song of Émilie and the Great Bird"
  4. "The Ostrich's Song"
  5. "The Witch's Song"
  6. "The Umbrella Ribs' Song"
  7. "The Blue Rabbits Gathering's Song" (reprise)
  8. "The Hedgehog's Song" (also sung by Émilie and The Narrator)
  9. "The Clock's Song"
  10. "The Extraterrestrial's Song"
  11. "The Pebble's Song"
  12. "The Clock and The Witch's Duo"
  13. "The Cock and Donkey's Song"
  14. "The Sad Little Flower's Song"
  15. "The Wolf's Song"
  16. "The Raccoon's Song"
  17. "The Beginning of The End Song"
  18. "The Novice Prince Charming's Song"
  19. "The Final Song" (sung by The Narrator)

This musical tale provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The 1998 version of the album features two new characters: The Clock and The Flower, as well as a new song featuring The Clock and The Witch.
  • Album Closure: "The Final Song" ends the story yet suggests that Émilie could see her friends again for another time.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The Umbrella Ribs, The Clock and The Pebble.
  • Arc Words: "Turn the page".
  • Art Initiates Life: The Narrator gives life to The Novice Prince Charming by drawing him.
  • Autotune: Featured on the 1998 version, and especially applied on Émilie's vocals.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The Witch turns into a beautiful and sweet princess after meeting The Novice Prince Charming.
  • Big Bad Wolf: Subverted with The Wolf who is martyrised by a grandma after losing his teeth.
  • Bookends: The original album starts and ends with a piano cover of "Émilie and The Great Bird's Song". Songs-wise, the opening and closing tracks are sung by The Narrator.
  • Bowdlerise: "The Wolf's Song" has a lyric about how Little Red Riding Hood was smart enough to not "pull that fucking bobbin". In the 1998 version, The Wolf instead sings "that cursed bobbin".
  • Broken Bird: The Witch.
  • Broken Record: The outro of The Raccoon's Song.
  • Call-and-Response Song: "Émilie And The Great Bird's Song", "The Extraterrestrial's Song" and "Cock And Donkey's Song".
  • Call-Back: The 1998 version of "The Hedgehog's Song" ends with a Shout-Out to Georges Brassens who played the character on the original album.
  • Character Title
  • Chanson: The main genre of the tale. Most guests (especially on the original album) are also iconic figures of said genre.
  • Chroma Key: Constantly used in the 1980 TV adaptation of the first album.
  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • The Blue Rabbits who turn red when they catch a cold.
    • The Raccoon who is black and white and wishes to have Émilie's colours.
  • Deadly Euphemism: "The Song of Émilie and The Great Bird" mentions flying as a metaphor for dying. The Great Bird tells him Émilie that when she'll be old enough, she'll fly and join the birds.
    • In the 1998 version, death is mentionned and is also reffered to as "Going to the birds' land" when The Clock has her hands taken away by The Witch.
  • Dedication: Created by Phillippe Chatel for her daughter named Émilie.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: The Witch ditches her black clothing and becomes a sweet princess after meeting The Novice Prince Charming.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The Witch lives alone in her castle and wishes for a Prince Charming to save her from her sadness.
  • Double Meaning: The Great Bird tells Émilie that she has to turn all the pages. In the story's context, The Great Bird encourages Émilie to continue her journey in the storybook, but out of context, he also encourages her to live her life to the fullest and not miss a thing.
  • Dramatic Shattering: Glass shattering is heard when The Witch is introduced.
  • "Getting Ready for Bed" Plot: "The Song
  • The Eeyore: The Hedgehog constantly complains about being spiky and alone.
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number: The appropriately named "Beginning of The End Song".
  • The End: Subverted with "The Beginning of The End Song" which happens after Émilie and The Narrator enter a white page with the word "END" in it. They're against it since they haven't found The Prince Charming yet.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": With the exception of Émilie Jolie and The Alien (who is named A440), all the characters are named after what they are or what they do.
  • Evil Wears Black: The Witch starts her song by saying she's only clothed in black dresses. After meeting The Novice Prince Charming, her black dress turns white.
  • Face on the Cover: Émilie is featured on the front cover of both albums.
  • Fetch Quest: Émilie has to find a Prince Charming for The Witch.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: The Cock and The Donkey do this on their song.
  • Genre Roulette: Émilie Jolie prominently features Chanson music, but some song stand out
    • "The Ostrich's Song" is a Broadway-inspired tune.
    • "The Alien's Song" (notably the 1979 version) features synthesizers and a space rock sound.
    • "The Wolf's Song" is a rock'n'roll tune.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Émilie.
  • Humble Hero: The Novice Prince Charming who is perfectly aware of how he doesn't have much.
  • "I Am" Song: Most of the songs are about the characters of the story presenting themselves or their situation.
  • Ice Queen: The Witch.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Novice Prince Charming describes himself as "a king with no kingdom" and leaves in a house with a thatched roof.
  • In-Series Nickname: Emilie is referred to as "The fairy of this book" by The Hedgehog and The Wolf.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Émilie, along with her blond hair and her pink cheeks.
  • Invisible Parents: Emilie's parents are only mentionned in the opening song. They are out for tonight while Emilie is alone in her room.
  • Large Ham: In contrast to Julien Clerc's performance on "Émilie And The Great Bird's Song", Johnny Hallyday's version features the hammy vocals he is known for.
  • Let's Duet: "Émilie And The Great Bird's Song" and "Cock And Donkey's Song". The 1998 album also has "The Clock And The Witch's Duo".
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "The Umbrella Ribs' Song".
  • Magic Kiss: Émilie heals the fever of The Blue Rabbits by kissing their ears.
  • Meaningful Appearance: Émilie is described by the narrator as a blond girl with blue eyes and pink cheeks. Later on, she meets The Raccoon who asks her to give him her colours.
  • Mirror Character: The 1998 version introduced The Flower who complains about being alone and wishes to be picked, in a similar fashion to The Pebble who is abandonned and looking for someone to pick him up.
  • Modest Royalty: The Novice Prince Charming wears blue jeans.
  • The Musical: While Émilie Jolie was originally presented as a "musical tale", it was planned as a one-off project with no theatrical musical in mind. However, its success led to a stage adaptation in 1985 and many others through the decades.
  • Narration Echo: Émilie does that after The Blue Rabbit's Song.
  • Picture Books: The story moves forward as Emilie turns the pages of her picture book.
  • Prince Charming: Slightly subverted with The Novice Prince Charming.
  • Prince Charmless: Downplayed with The Novice Prince Charming who doesn't have any charisma yet remains humble.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Pun: Three French-exclusive puns are The Umbrella Ribs, The Cock and The Donkey, and The Raccoon:
    • In French, The Umbrella Ribs are called "Baleines de Parapluie" (Umbrella whales).
    • A French idiom says that when you abruptly switch from one subject to another, you "go from the Cock to the Donkey" (Passer du coq à l'âne). This is why the Cock and the Donkey are looking for missing words in this story.
    • Raccoons are called "Ratons laveurs" (Washing raccoons) in French. The Raccoon is shown as someone who never stops washing.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • "The Ostrich's Song" is sung by Sylvie Vartan on the original album, but the TV special uses a version featuring Diane Dufresne.
    • The 1998 album has a version of "Émilie and The Great Bird's Song" performed by Lara Fabian and Philippe Chatel.
    • The 1998 version of The Wolf's Song has its chorus sung by backing vocals and a bowdlerised lyric.
    • When Phillipe Chatel played "Emilie and The Great Bird's Song" at a concert in 1981, he sang the whole lyrics but said "And the little girl said..." before singing Emilie's lyrics.
  • Record Producer: Phillipe Chatel on both albums.
  • Reprise Medley: After finding The Prince Charming, Émilie calls all the characters to come and we hear all the previous songs as short extracts crossfading into each other.
  • Rock & Roll: The genre of "The Wolf's Song".
  • Role Swap Plot: The Wolf is now a defenseless animal who is attacked by a grandma.
  • Savage Wolves: Averted with The Wolf who lost his teeth and is now harassed by The Grandma.
  • Scatting: Featured on "The Ostrich's Song" and on the outro of "The Alien's Song".
  • Shout-Out:
    • George Gershwin is mentionned several times on "The Ostrich's Song".
    • The 1998 version of "The Hedgehog's Song" namedrops Georges Brassens who originally played the character and was the only cast member who passed away by the time the second album was released.
    • The Small Pebble laments about how he was separated from his siblings by Hop-o'-My-Thumb.
    • The Wolf references Little Red Riding Hood in his song.
    • The Raccoon describes himself "like a Charlie Chaplin film" due to the fact that he is black and white.
  • Sickness Equals Redness: The Blue Rabbits turn red when they catch a cold.
  • Signature Line: "May your dreams devour your life so that your life doesn't devour your dreams", said by The Narrator at the end of the story (as well as Philippe Chatel whenever he played "Emilie and The Great Bird's Song" live).
  • Single Stanza Song: "The Umbrella Ribs' Song".
  • The Something Song: All song titles follow that naming scheme.
  • Spoken Word in Music: Used in the interludes.
  • The Stinger: The two albums end with a short sequence of Émilie (Phillipe Chatel's daughter) laughing. It is called "Emilie's Laugh" on the original album and is a hidden track on the 1998 album.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Featured on the interlude track which announces The Wolf's Song.
  • Tagline: "May your dreams devour your life so that your life doesn't devour your dreams", which is also the final quote said by the narrator.
  • Title Drop: It easily happens when you have a Character Title.
  • The Vamp: The Ostrich aspires to become one.
  • Vocal Dissonance: After Emilie asks them about The Prince Charming, The Rooster and The Donkey have their voice pitching up as they repeat that they never met him.
  • Vocal Tag Team:
    • The Narrator, The Hedgehog and Émilie sing on "The Hedgehog's Song".
    • "Cock and Donkey's Song".
  • Wicked Witch: Subverted with the 1979 version where The Witch is more of an Ice Queen who hopes to find a Prince Charming. This is also featured on 1998 version, however she loses her patience and almost kills The Clock. Hopefully, Émilie convinces her to remain hopeful.
  • You Sound Familiar: Phillipe Chatel plays The Novice Prince Charming on the original 1979 album and later plays The Alien on the 1998 album.