Thirty years after its release in 1964, this poignant romantic drama, in which virtually all of the dialogue is sung, was badly in need of restoration. The bright colors had faded and washed out in a haze of pink, and the ... more »film stock had badly aged. Fortunately, the movie was properly restored to its original splendor and rereleased to worldwide acclaim. Not only was this French romance a daring musical experiment (because the entire screenplay is a kind of epic song, beautifully scored by Michel Legrand), but it also introduced Catherine Deneuve, who was 20 years old when the film was released and became one of France's all-time screen legends. Deneuve plays a young woman in love with a local auto mechanic named Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) who has been drafted into the army. In his absence she learns that she is pregnant and then marries a rich man who agrees to raise the child. The bittersweet story follows what happens when Guy returns from service. To reveal anything more would be a disservice to anyone who hasn't seen this touchingly heartfelt film. --Jeff Shannon« less
"This could be the most beautiful, unique, romantic movie ever made. Every bit of dialogue is sung (but there are no "musical" numbers), and it's filmed in VIVID pastels, beautifully restored in this print (the film was originally released in 1964, and was the Cannes Film Festival Grand Prize winner). In French, with English subtitles, Letterbox (1.66:1, so it looks fine even on a small TV). Young girl (Catherine Deneuve, radiant in her first film) who works for her mother in an umbrella shop, "Les Parapluies de Cherbourg" - hence the title - and young garage mechanic (Nino Castelnuovo) swear their undying love for one another, he goes off to war, she finds herself pregnant, and she must make some decisions which will forever affect the lives of at least four people. Underneath its beautiful and lighthearted look and feel is a very serious and moving story. The entire word-for-word/song-for-song soundtrack/dialogue is also available on 2 audio CDs - Les Parapluies de Cherbourg - Sony ISBN 7464626782. Directed by Jacques Demy, music by Michel Legrand. Several of the musical themes have entered into the cultural consciousness, and if you've never seen this movie before, when you watch it you may experience a pleasant sense of recognition, i.e., "So that's where that song came from!" You'll love it! END"
A wonderful DVD version of a unique film
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 04/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There really isn't another film quite like THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG. For instance, every line of dialogue in the movie is sung, yet apart from the heartbreakingly beautiful "I Will Wait for You," there are no songs. So, is it a musical? In form it seems more like an operetta. Musically, the dialogue is loosely organized, though certain musical themes are repeated often, and it lightly sung, none of the performers coming across as highly trained professional singers. Overall, the music, despite the presence of only one song, is entrancing.As fine as the music is, I actually found the film to be more riveting on a purely visual level. For instance, inn scene after scene, I found myself focusing on the art design rather than the music. Demy frames most of his shots against backgrounds of more or less solid and striking colors--green walls, blue-stripped wallpaper, unusually painted building. Demy also employs a host of subtle camera angles and techniques. The film is unquestionably as much for the eyes as for the ears.Most members of the cast were unknown to me, except, of course, for the surreally beautiful Catherine Deneuve, who was nineteen during most of the production of the film. She exudes star quality throughout. But none of the performers fails at all in their roles, though none of the others was the budding star that she was. One thing that struck me about all of the characters was that while the tale told is essentially a tragic one--or at least a bittersweet one--there are really no bad guys. Marc Michel, for instance, who plays Deneuve's wealthy suitor Roland Cassard, is a thoroughly likable person, even admirable. She clearly doesn't love him, but in no conceivable sense is he a bad person. Nino Castelnuovo's character Guy Foucher, for whom Deneuve's Geneviève Emery has asserted she "wait forever" turns out to be an inconstant correspondent, but apart from that he does nothing actively unkind to Geneviève. Geneviève's mother might push her towards Roland and away from Guy, but she is clearly motivated by a love of her daughter. The movie could have been subtitled: "A Tragedy with No Villains." The film is about love, but it is sadly not a love story. In a way, it deconstructs the kind of romantic myths that dominates the musical genre. This is the anti-Disney version of the possibility of eternal love."
"I Will Wait for You"
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 01/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
Les Parapluies de Cherbourg is one of the most beautiful movies ever made with an enchanting and haunting score by Michel Le Grande, and totally focused, sharp and creative direction by Jacques Demy. Catherine Deneuve gives a fine performance in pinkish white makeup with her blonde hair pulled away from her famous face, at twenty playing a seventeen-year-old shopkeeper's daughter who falls in love with a garage mechanic. He is called away to the war in Algeria after making her pregnant. Will she wait for him as the award-winning song proclaims? Will their love endure the long separation?
All the dialogue is sung. The script is terse with nothing extraneous to the bittersweet story. Because the dialogue is stripped to the barest essentials, the singing seems natural and enhances the dream-like quality established early with the rain falling on the umbrellas and the cobblestone streets of the seacoast town. The sets are splashed in vivid color. Everything is superficially romantic, but the events are the starkest realism.
When a young girl is forced to choose between love and security, which does she choose? It depends on the circumstances, and sometimes circumstances and the passage of time can change her heart.
I was a teenager in France when this was made in the sixties. The backdrops of the white Esso gas station, the red and yellow passenger train cars, the bouffant hair styles on the girls, their eyes heavily made up with mascara and black eyeliner, the ubiquitous bicycles and the little French "cigarette roller" cars all brought back vivid memories of youth as did the musical score.
A question: what ever happened to the "other" girl, Ellen Farner who played Madeleine? To be honest I found her more attractive than Deneuve who of course went on to become a great star and an acclaimed international beauty. Farner was never heard from again.
Some scenes made more effective by their simplicity: When Genevieve (Deneuve) returns home after a late evening with Guy, her mother (Anne Vernon) surveys her daughter and exclaims, "What have you done?" Genevieve retorts sharply, "Mama!" and it is clear what she has done. Also, as Guy is going off to the army Madeleine arrives upon the scene as he is saying good-bye to his stepmother who is ill. They exchange glances that reveal Madeleine's love for him. And then she sings out softly in the heartfelt regret of parting, "Adieu, Guy." We know these are not the last words that will pass between them. Additionally, the brief, beautifully structured, final scene at the shiny new Esso gas station is not to be forgotten.
The scenes with Roland Cassard (Marc Michel), the suave, traveling man of means who sells Madame Emery's jewelry so she can pay the taxes on her umbrella shop, are nicely staged so that we can see at a glance that he is enormously taken with Guinevere and that the mother will do everything possible to further his case. It is agreeable for those identifying with Guinevere that Roland is not only well off financially, but is as handsome as the garage mechanic. But will he still want her when he learns that she is pregnant with another man's child?
Jacques Demy who also wrote the script is to be commended for the effortless pace and tight focus of this romantic tale of star crossed lovers. I wish every director had such an ability to cut the extraneous and concentrate on the essentials without intrusion. The tale is an atmospheric tour de force of love lost and gained, of bourgeois values triumphant.
This might be a bit precious for some, but upon seeing this for the third time, I can tell you I was enchanted anew."
One of the best musicals ever made!
Ed N | Kensington, Maryland USA | 07/12/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Up until 6 months ago, I had never heard of "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg." My mom used to hum a couple of tunes from this French musical, but I never made the connection. However, I came across the DVD of this classic musical a bit back while searching for a present for my mother, and I quickly fell in love with this musical. It is different from most musicals, as it is (1) French, and (2) sung the whole way through. All the "dialogue" is sung in the recitative manner of opera music and lead so naturally into the actual songs that you really can't tell the difference. The story itself concerns the bittersweet love between the young daughter (Catherine Deneuve) of a shopkeeper and a young man who learns shortly that he has been drafted to join the French army. It is a beautiful story told simply and effectively by one of the French New Wave directors, Jacques Demy. As I understand it, he made a few more musicals starring Catherine Deneuve (The Young Girls of Rochefort, Donkeyskin), but this film was his most popular musical. For a long time, this film was considered "lost" due to deterioration of the film stock, its vivid colors reduced to pale shadows of its original glorious hues. However, thanks to recovery of an alternate negative that retained the original colors, the film was abled to be restored to its former brilliance. This restored version of the film is what is available currently on DVD.Truthfully, it looks quite fantastic. The colors are briliant enough to rival the Hollywood Technicolor process, and the sound is clean. I am glad I bought this DVD, and it has quickly become one of my favorite musicals.I only have a few problems with the DVD itself. First, subtitles are only in English. I would have liked to have seen French subtitles as well, but such was not the case. Also, the film transfer gets a little blocky and pixelated here and there; I understand that Fox/Lorber has a questionable on/off reputation with their DVDs, and I wish they could have been just a tad bit more careful with this classic. This marred an otherwise beautiful restoration effort. Lastly, I wished there were more chapter marks. Some of the best songs lie no where close to any of the chapter marks and thus require either bookmarking or fast-forwarding. Not a big concern, but just a little inconvenient.However, this is still an excellent film, and I would HIGHLY recommend it to any lovers of musicals! Purchase/rent/watch this film without delay! And a note to Fox/Lorber - how about releasing "The Young Girls of Rochefort" out on DVD? I know it was somewhat restored as well and had a limited re-release; this would be an excellent companion piece to Umbrellas of Cherbourg!"
I dont think I've ever cried so hard!
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 08/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At the end of this movie i cried so hard I swore I'd never see it again. And so far, I haven't. But not because the movie is bad! This movie is just absolutely heartbreaking. All the dialogue is sung, but it's done so naturally that by the end of the movie you dont even notice. Catherine Deneuve literally radiates as Genevieve, the daughter of an umbrella shop owner. Although Deneuve was only 19 at the time of the filming, she projects a maturity and depth that make the movie so much more than a "boy meets girl, boy loses girl" romance. I love how as the movie progresses her face becomes more stony and blank, as Genevieve's mindset progresses from romantic to practical. Nino Castelnuovo as Guy is not quite as memorable as Deneuve, but he doesnt have any of the irritating chipperness of American movie musical stars. The movie, despite its "movie musical" influences, is very French. The story is small and slight, but the emotions are big, and nothing is resolved neatly. There isnt a "happy" or "sad" ending. Michael Legrand's score is known for the hit "I Will Wait for You" but there aren't any large production numbers a la Singin' in the Rain. What could be a weakness is turned into a strength: this might be the most intimate, sincere, romantic movie musical ever made. Guy and Genevieve are not the perky, perpetually smiling musical couple. Their romance might look silly and insignificant on paper, but it absolutely broke my heart. By the final scene, I was sobbing like a baby. The movie is shot with deliberately artificial interiors and a color scheme. Director Jacques Demy favors bright, symbolic colors that today look a little unsubtle (red = passion, etc) but overall add to the feeling of sincerity and romance that permeates every shot in the film. I wish the DVD had more extras -- maybe an interview with the elusive Deneuve, or a commentary track. Alas it doesn't, which is disappointing, but the feature movie itself is so great I couldn't imagine myself not having this dvd."