Water Dreams: “Pull Marine” (1983) by Isabelle Adjani

French actress Isabelle Adjani's curious exploration of love and death in a pop song co-written by the legendary Serge Gainsbourg is visualized as a cold, erotic dream, courtesy of Luc Besson.

Iconic French actress Isabelle Adjani made a name for herself early on in her life, taking the lead in François Truffaut’s The Story of Adele H, a role that would earn the actress her first Academy award nomination in 1976 and bring her to the attention of cinema-goers worldwide. Adjani continued her streak in highly successful films and gained notoriety as one of the world’s most skilled actresses whose deeply nuanced and textured performances belied the impossible beauty of her icy, cool and mysterious exterior.

Before she would go on to earn her second Academy award nomination (for a brazen and moving performance in Camille Claudel), Adjani hooked up with renowned producer and songwriter Serge Gainsbourg for a one-off album that resulted in the million-selling hit single “Pull Marine” in 1983. The song, featuring a typically lambent and moody Gainsbourg melody, was co-written by Adjani who hauntingly recounts her imagined death by drowning while wearing an old lover’s sweater. The song’s thematic elements of love, death and transcendence were taken to cinematic heights for its music video directed by a then-unknown Luc Besson, who obviously based his mini-film on the dreamscapes found in the works of René Magritte. What the video is about is anyone’s guess; an exercise in symbolism and self-indulgence, it seems to strain for ideas of the ephemeral nature of love, suggested by the corresponding images of flowing water. Regardless of the quizzical nonsense, it’s still breathtakingly beautiful and shows Besson’s knack for visual elegance. And Adjani’s beauty is used to wonderful effect, her perfect blue eyes giving frame to the evocatively eerie and surreal images that take shape and dissolve like a half-remembered dream.