Legendary French artist Edith Piaf will be the subject of a new biopic from Warner Music, but instead of casting an actor to embody the life of Piaf, her voice and image will be resurrected using AI technology.
Warner Music announced on Tuesday that it has partnered with the Piaf Estate on “innovative and groundbreaking AI technology” that will recreate Piaf’s voice and image. The first animated biopic of an artist using AI will chart Piaf’s life from the 1920s to the 1960s.
Piaf died in 1963.
Warner Music Entertainment and Seriously Happy will develop and produce the 90-minute film, which will use AI trained on hundreds of voice clips and images of the “La Vie en Rose” singer, some of which are 80 years old. The film will be narrated by Piaf’s voice and will “uncover aspects of her life that were previously unknown – showcasing her indomitable spirit, personal achievements, and incredible performances.”
Animation will provide a “modern take” on her story, while the film will also include archival footage, stage and TV performances, personal footage, and TV interviews. Recordings from her original songs will also be used.
A proof of concept has already been created, and Warner Music Entertainment will now partner with a studio to develop the full-length film.
Titled “Edith,” the film is based on an original idea from Julie Veille and has been written by Veille and Gilles Marliac. The pair are working alongside Warner Music Entertainment’s President Charlie Cohen to bring the script and technology to life through the full-length feature.
“When creating the film, we kept asking ourselves, ‘if Edith were still with us, what messages would she want to convey to the younger generations?’” Veille said in a statement. “Her story is one of incredible resilience, of overcoming struggles, and defying social norms to achieve greatness – and one that is as relevant now as it was then. Our goal is to utilize the latest advancements in animation and technology to bring the timeless story to audiences of all ages.”
Catherine Glavas and Christie Laume, Executors of Edith Piaf’s Estate, added, “The technology has made it feel like we were back in the room with her.”
Alain Veille, CEO of Warner Music France, acknowledged the “delicate balance” in using AI to recreate Piaf. “It is such a delicate balancing act when combining new technology with heritage artists, and it was imperative to us that we worked closely with Edith’s estate and handled this project with the utmost respect.”
The move comes as SAG-AFTRA just fought hard for AI protections in the guild’s latest contract with the Hollywood studios, preparing the industry for a new future in which practically anyone can be recreated and utilized onscreen with AI technology.
Marion Cotillard played Piaf in the 2007 biopic “La Vie en Rose.” She won an Oscar for her performance.