UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG, THE: DVD
Seventeen year old Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve) and garage mechanic Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) are madly in love, but are separated when he is drafted to Algeria for two years. They spend a night together before he leaves and as a result, she falls pregnant. Although Genevieve's mother Madame Emery (Anne Vernon) has not met Guy, she is more ambitious for her daughter. She runs a little shop in Cherbourg selling umbrellas, but her business is not going well. When she meets the rich diamond dealer Roland Cassard (Marc Michel), she encourages him to fall in love with Genevieve.
Review by Louise Keller:
This bitter-sweet love story set to Michel Legrand's music from writer director Jacques Demy marks the breakout film for the then 20 year old Catherine Deneuve, whose delicate beauty and screen presence has enchanted the world ever since. Much of the film is about the longings of love - impossible or unrequited and the two men who play key roles in the life of seventeen year old Genevieve (Deneuve), who works in her mother's umbrella shop in Cherbourg. The dialogue is sung recitative style (reportedly dubbed for each actor) and the result is a knockout. It bears none of the lightheartedness of musicals from the 50s, but is a poignant and rather sad tale of true love that was not meant to be.
The film begins with a striking aerial shot in which rain is falling onto cobblestones. The tops of the coloured umbrellas are like twirling kaleidoscopes as they dance from one side of the screen to the other, but it is the subsequent six black umbrellas that herald the film's duality. There are three sections to Demy's screenplay, and it is in the first part of the film that the love story between Genevieve and Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) plays out. It is when news of Guy's imminent departure to Algeria comes to light, as they sit in a café wondering how they will live without each other, that they sing Legrand's haunting love song 'I Will Wait For You'. Like Lara's Theme in Doctor Zhivago, this becomes their song, while 'Watch What Happens' becomes the love theme between Genevieve and the wealthy Roland Cassard (Marc Michel), who cuckolds the child she conceives with Guy.
Although Demy's film represents heightened reality, its themes pierce right to the core. Emotions are heartfelt and all the performances ring true. Deneuve is exquisite as she displays the joys of love, uncertainty at her predicament, heartbreak and the inevitable acceptance of the fate she selects. Engaging, surprising and always moving, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a film to discover, revisit and savour.
Published March 27, 2008
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UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG, THE: DVD (PG)
(France/West Germany, 1964)
Parapluies de Cherbourg, Les
CAST: Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo, Anne Vernon, Marc Michel, Ellen Farner, Mireille Perrey, Jean Champion
PRODUCER: Mag Bodard
DIRECTOR: Jacques Demy
SCRIPT: Jacques Demy
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jean Rabier
EDITOR: Anne-Marie Cotret, Monique Teisseire
MUSIC: Michel Legrand
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bernard Evein
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: An excerpt from Agnes Varda's The World of Jacques Demy: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort, Donkey Skin, A Slightly Pregnant Man
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Aztec
DVD RELEASE: March 12, 2008