The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
(Les parapluies de Cherbourg)

Screening on Film
Directed by Jacques Demy.
With Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo, Marc Michel.
France/West Germany, 1964, 35mm, color, 92 min.
French with English subtitles.
Print source: Institut Français

Finally realizing his dream of a romantic tale completely saturated in color and song, Demy created his most critically and popularly successful film and propelled Catherine Deneuve into eternal stardom. His oddly radical departure from the New Wave coda—and certainly any particular film genre—featured dialogue entirely sung in a stunning Technicolor wonderland held within the fluid gaze of Jean Rabier’s camera. Meticulously painting with artifice to describe the heart’s depths, Demy initiates his audience into a heightened sensory experience of the unpredictable social and economic compromises and complications tangled up in modern love. As if transmitting on a parallel frequency, his relentless musical style and candy-colored sensibility infuses the melodrama with another layer of emotional communication—enhancing his cinematic palette to illustrate how ordinary life’s simple encounters, connections and dizzying, dramatic crescendos of underlying emotions take on the rich, dreamy uncanniness of the cinema or the fairy tale, and that their separation is perhaps the actual illusion.

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