This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
a film for all the young lovers of the world
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.
When I was growing up in the 60’s, if my Dad wasn’t practicing piano, or we weren’t watching TV in the evening, the radio was always on. Now, being the mid-sixties, you would expect this would be a smorgasbord of Beatles, Stones, The Birds, and an assortment of early hippy fodder. Not so on CFRB 1010 AM, the station my parents listened to. CFRB was a conservative ‘adult’ radio station. In 1964 you would be very likely to hear Dean Martin, and very unlikely to hear The Beatles except maybe as part of the newscast reporting on how teenagers were losing their minds en masse.
One of the most likely songs you’d bump into was I’ll wait for you
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is something of an outlier in the French New Wave canon. It's predominantly a jazz opera, highly influenced by American musicals, and yet maintains a unique sensibility that defined new wave cinema. It's shot primarily on location in Cherbourg, but the real-life locations have been given an artifice through lurid Technicolor, studio-lighting, post-modern graffiti and a pastiche of delightfully outrageous costume choices.
This could be a loose adaptation of Pagnol's Fanny trilogy, or just as easily a musical rendering of Kazan's Splendor in the Grass filtered through the pastels of West Side Story.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg remains an utterly unique, delectable treat for the senses.
The idea of singing every single line of dialogue seems ostensibly ridiculous, so how did Jacques Demy make it seem as if there was never any other way of performing a musical? And not just your standard whimsical, epic romance. The story of Guy and Genevieve reminds us of the unforgiving nature of circumstance in a world drenched with vibrant technicolor. Melancholy has rarely looked so beautiful.
An opening Count Basie style swing number sends us finger clicking into a beautifully shot, Technicolor-land of yellows, blues and greens. When a young elegant Catherine Deneuve glides onscreen to complete the other half of this handsome couple, the spell being cast upon us is in full effect.…
Soothing, mournful, and delightful exhilaration from the first frame to the last. Didn't know that The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was actually a non-stop musical, but after that initial jarring moment, I was completely on board. It's a typical story of romance and adolescent passion laid against the harsh realities of the world, but every blooming color, gentle glance and sudden burst of cinematic exuberance swept me into a snuggling ball of warmth.
Every performance, musical note, and display of filmmaking technique culminates in a truly stirring experience, and by the end, I was crying and contemplating and smiling and experiencing all kinds of feelings.
If every other Demy film is like this, then I don't think I'll be able to take it.
“I can’t live without him. I’ll die.” “Stop crying. Look at me. People only die of love in movies.”
The beauty of the classical Hollywood movie musical—a uniquely American art form if ever there were one—is its intrinsic artificiality. People simply do not express their innermost feelings in instantly composed song, nor do strangers break into perfectly choreographed spontaneous dance. But choosing such an unreal mode of expression permits the musical to give voice to profoundly real emotions often left unspoken, deepening their impact.
Of course, we Americans can only take these ersatz outbursts in limited doses. The French know no such inhibitions. If an isolated song can accentuate the emotional intensity of young lovers’ adulation or heartbreak, then surely…
I dislike musicals for the most part, but what I really hate are musicals that sing "pass the salt". That drives me batty. Musical numbers, you know, song and dance type of stuff ok if necessary, but singing dialogue? Ouch.
This was singing dialogue.
So you can imagine what the rest of the film was like for me to rate it so highly.
I thought Wong kar-wai owned reds and greens but boy he's got nothing on Jacques Demy's production designer. The colours are crazy, almost cartooney there for a while. In fact the first act is so bubblegum that you wonder if you should take it seriously but while you are making your decision something about it all comes…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
I’m not super-prudish when it comes to movies challenging commercial tropes; The Umbrellas of Cherbourg obviously sticks in the mind because of its anti-romantic bent on Hollywood musicals. I am “prudish” when Demy doesn’t explicate why Geneviève marries Cassard, when her initial scenes with Guy are so gorgeous. “Because she’s a pregnant teen and needs a husband” should work just as well in theory, but who wants to have sex with that guy when Nino Castelnuovo walks the Earth? Should it even add up at all? The likely answer is “no,” but Catherine Deneuve looks like a goddess in her prime who deserves a happy ending. Geneviève’s mother’s arguments in favor of the marriage would not convince most girls. I just want to like Geneviève more, OK?!
I personally don't like musicals, only ones I like is Dancer in the Dark and Singing in the Rain. Other than that I haven't liked any musicals.
I thought I would like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, reading the plot and reviews really got me excited but the singing dialogues ruined the viewing experience for me. I mean the whole movie was talked in singing.
The beautiful thing in this movie are the sets, so colorful and lovely. And Catherine Deneuve looks really astonishing, the story is really sweet, simple and sad at times. And the ending is what made me give it 3 stars otherwise it was 2 or even less.
I am glad nowadays there are no musicals.
i need to stop watching this
A decir verdad no era lo que esperaba, al principio no podía creer que la película se mantendría con todos los diálogos cantados, pero tampoco tardé mucho en acostumbrarme, y después de ahí pude aceptar mejor la trama.
Creo que Les Parapluies de Cherbourg no es una película que fácilmente le guste a todo el mundo. No sólo por el hecho de que absolutamente todo el guión sea cantado, sino porque además, puede ser bastante empalagosa al inicio, pero al mismo tiempo, se ajusta bien con la dosis perfecta de realidad que incorpora más tarde.
Entre escenas involucra un muy buen manejo de cámara, y la escena de apertura me gustó mucho. Sin duda es uno de los musicales más distinguidos que he visto.
«Sólo en el cine se muere de amor».
Oui, c'est vrai! LES PARAPLUIES DE CHERBOURG lives up to its whimsical title and delivers an all-singing/no-dancing ode to the pain of absence and the frailties of the heart. More than that, it serves as my first true introduction to the inimitable Catherine Deneuve, and...my goodness. (Everyone else is on fantastic form, of course, but it's hard to keep your eyes on anyone other than Deneuve when her eyes, costume and voice are all present on screen.)
Using the whole spectrum of colour compared to his Nouvelle Vague contemporaries with their black & white and restrained palettes, Jacques Demy celebrates the joy and heartbreak cinema can bring with every frame. Life, too; by having all of the dialogue sung, scenes are…
What is love? Is it the first blush of romance, the passion of youth and energy of youth, when life is ahead of you and everything is enormous? I'm sure you remember those days, when everything that went wrong was the end of the world, and your life was over.
Or is love something you build with people who stand by you? Is it something you have to work for, something that only comes when the flush of youth has passed and one becomes an adult?
My vote is for the latter, but you can work it out for yourself.
By the time Catherine Deneuve starts singing "Je ne peux pas...je ne peux pas", I was an emotional wreck.
There is no way this film can be made without being completely sung. If Deneuve had delivered the line "je ne peux pas" without singing it, the scene would have just been about her crying. Somehow, Jacques Demy knew that if the whole film was sung, then the film would not merely be about emotion but operate on a purely emotive level.
"The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" is a purely unfiltered outpour of emotion and I loved every single minute of this film audaciously bringing me to a state of complete pathos.
Found in the patterns of the vivid, geometric wallpapers of the character’s homes, and in their pristine and flamboyant clothing, is a deep sadness and confusing understanding of romance -and eventually a bittersweet discovery. Very quickly, you'll put behind your perception of musicals as being a large, unrealistically happy and choreographed view of the world and find, in “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” something mesmerizingly unique, bleak, and ultimately lovely about the shattering iceberg that is life.
I was lucky enough to catch a showing of a gorgeous, 35mm print of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg at the Library of Congress's Packard Campus in Culpeper, VA. It's a technicolor marvel and a fantastic film throughout.
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