The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964): France

Reviewed by Belen Nevarez. Viewed at AFI Film Festival 2013.

Jacques Demy directed a remarkable French musical called Umbrellas of Cherbourg released in 1964. It follows two young lovers, dashing mechanic Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) and daughter of umbrella shop owner Geneviève (Catherine Deneuve), who could not bear to be apart from each other. But when  Guy has leave to serve in the Army, they are both heartbroken. Geneviève is determined to wait for him as she finds out she is pregnant with his child. Time passes and they both make life choices that leaves the audience feel “why?”

The beginning shot (opening credits) is genius! You are viewing the rain from above, with each drop going to the center of the frame. Then come out a choreographed twirls of different colored umbrellas. As the film goes through its story, you notice bright yellows such as Geneviève’s rain jacket, baby blues in Guy’s room, and a lively red in a dance room. It makes you wonder what the significance of these colors are, but then you thank that its bright to keep the energy up as they are singing throughout the film.

If there is a film that you must wait in line for, this is it! Though you’d think that watching a film in which all the actors sung their lines would possibly be annoying or loss of interest, but not here. I personally enjoy musicals, and am very impressed that this film did not try to overdo the singing. They all sounded great and put emotion in it, even with all the bright colors around.




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