The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
a film for all the young lovers of the world
Jacques Demy's 1964 masterpiece is a pop-art opera, or, to borrow the director's own description, a film in song. This simple romantic tragedy begins in 1957. Guy Foucher, a 20-year-old French auto mechanic, has fallen in love with 17-year-old Geneviève Emery, an employee in her widowed mother's chic but financially embattled umbrella shop. On the evening before Guy is to leave for a two-year tour of combat in Algeria, he and Geneviève make love. She becomes pregnant and must choose between waiting for Guy's return or accepting an offer of marriage from a wealthy diamond merchant. A completely sung movie, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is closest in form to a cinematic opera.
I lost track of how many times this movie made me cry. Sometimes I lost it just from being overwhelmed by how perfect the sets and colors were, and the sadness, and especially every time the theme played.
I'm still crying.
I want to watch it again.
Orson Welles once said that one way of telling a great film is whether you believe the characters continue existing and going about their lives once they're out of the frame. Luckily for Umbrellas of Cherboug that isn't the only criterion, such is the films revelry in its own artifice. It's so brazen in its artificiality and shameless in the story's familiar melodrama that it sort of wins you over. But the film is best known for two main attributes, which I'll give my take on.
The actors sing every. single. line. I like musicals as much as the next person* but this was too much for me, but I appreciate it on a sort of partially successful experiment level.…
"Maybe being happy just makes me sad."
Beautiful. I want to live in this movie.
Glad I finally saw this so I know it IS possible to make a great musical that also handles devastating human traumas in a social context. And Demy even does it under generic trappings of bright colors, sing-speaking and the jazzy bombast of Michel Legrand's score (both ironic counterpoint and pure expression of genuine feeling). Take notes, Tom.
A movie in which reality desperately claws its way into fantasy. Awash in color and music, the war in Algiers and financial trouble bring what, in America, would have been Singin' in the Rain into the real world, where love, while great, isn't always enough.
Worth it for the wallpaper alone.
A film about the stages of romance and love and how life gets in the way to change the course of love. It is the late 1950s and two young lovers vow everlasting love against the backdrop of the cute and colourful French town of Cherbourg, Normandy. Geneviève (Deneuve) works in her mother's umbrella shop and Guy (Castelnuovo) is a mechanic. Guy gets conscripted to go to war and while they are separated, life goes on. They do meet again but where their relationship was once defined by romantic idealism, it is now defined by realism.
The entirety of the dialogue happens in song form and this movie is like a little opera.
The sets and interiors are so goddamn cute. This film made me what to redecorate my house. And it has a really gorgeous closing sequence that broke my heart and warmed it at the same time.
Again, AFI has outdone itself and forever indebted me by presenting the newly-restored The Umbrellas of Cherbourg in the Grauman's Chinese Theater.
One of my favorite films of all time, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is as much to me about the experience and emotions of cinema as it is the relationship of Geneviève and Guy. A film that capitalizes on the how instead of the what or the why. To do so, Jacques Demy rightfully pushes ever indulgent whim to it's greatest extent and somehow keeps a lean film that ends as quickly as it began. Few films exude such disciplined gaiety as this and produces an experience as jovial as it is stoic, as moving as it is hammy, neither a traditional musical nor opera but floating somewhere in between.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg encapsulates nearly everything I love about movies and all in the skin of one of the most simple, recycled stories imaginable.
AFI Fest 2013.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Yeah, second rewatch did it for me.
Melodramatic tragedy. And the best kind. Some people in the audience clearly didn't understand the film -- they were laughing the WHOLE time. Even at the end.
Synthesizing cliches into tragedy through "song"
The days for watching this in a NYC rep theater have passed; I would not be able to handle the guffaws at Deneuve's hairstyles.
Wow. So tragic and sad.
The colors, the contained little world of Cherbourg, and the performances were all amazing.
I laughed. I cried. I loved every minute of it.