The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
|The Umbrellas of Cherbourg|
|Directed by||Jacques Demy|
|Produced by||Mag Bodard|
|Written by||Jacques Demy|
|Music by||Michel Legrand|
|Editing by||Anne-Marie Cotret
|Running time||91 minutes|
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (French: Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) is a 1964 French musical film directed by Jacques Demy, starring Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo. The music was written by Michel Legrand. The film dialogue is all sung as recitative, even the most casual conversation.
Umbrellas is the middle film in an informal "romantic trilogy" of Demy films that share some of the same actors, characters and overall look; it comes after Lola (1961) and before The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967). The film was very successful in France with a total of 1,274,958 admissions.
Madame Emery and her 17-year-old daughter Geneviève (Deneuve) sell umbrellas at their tiny boutique in the coastal town of Cherbourg in Normandy, France. Geneviève is in love with 20-year-old Guy (Castelnuovo), a handsome, young auto mechanic who lives with and cares for his sickly aunt, godmother Elise. Her quiet, dedicated, young care-giver, Madeleine (Ellen Farner), is clearly in love with Guy. Subsequently, Guy is drafted, and must leave for a two-year tour of duty in the Algerian War. The night before he leaves, he and Geneviève make love and she becomes pregnant. After he leaves, though, she feels abandoned, as he does not write very frequently, largely due to the restrictions of military life. At her mother's insistence, she marries thirty-ish Roland Cassard (Marc Michel), a quiet, handsome Parisian jeweler who falls in love with Geneviève and is willing to wed her though she is carrying another man's child. (Cassard had previously wooed the title character in Lola, only to be rejected once the father of her child returned—he relates an edited version of this story to Madame Emery with ill-concealed bitterness). The society wedding in a great cathedral shows Geneviève's upward social and economic mobility, but she does not seem at all happy with her situation.
When Guy returns from the war with a knee injury, he learns that Geneviève has married and left Cherbourg, and that the umbrella store has been sold. He attempts to ease back into his previous life, but becomes rebellious due both to the war and to the loss of Geneviève. One day, Guy quits his job after an argument with his boss, and drinks away the day and the evening in seedy port bars. He spends the night with a friendly prostitute named Jenny, who in the morning reveals that her name is actually Geneviève. When he returns to his apartment, he discovers a distraught Madeleine, who tells him tearfully that his godmother has died. He sees that Madeleine loves him, and cleans up his life with her encouragement. With an inheritance from his aunt, he is able to finance a new "American-style" Esso gas station. He asks Madeleine to marry him, and she accepts, though she wonders if he is asking her from despair at Geneviève's actions.
The coda is set in December 1963, approximately six years after the earliest events. Guy is now managing the couple's Esso station. He's with his now upbeat and loving wife Madeleine and their little son François. It is Christmas Eve. Madeleine and François go for a short walk, leaving Guy briefly, after which a new Mercedes pulls into the station. The mink-clad driver turns out to be a sophisticated and visibly well-off Geneviève, accompanied by her (and Guy's) daughter Françoise, who remains in the car. Shocked to see each other, they go inside the station to talk. Geneviève explains this is the first time she has been to Cherbourg since her marriage, and she is only in town on a detour to Paris after picking her daughter up from Cassard's mother in Anjou. Her fairly young mother has died the previous autumn. Her rich husband and child are the only family she has left; she has no children by Cassard. The two converse while Geneviève's car is being filled with gas, and when Geneviève asks Guy if he wants to meet their daughter, he declines. With restrained emotion, they part. As the film ends, Guy greets his wife with a kiss and plays with his son in the snow.
The continuous music score and the colour photography had much to do with the popularity of this film. Formally the work is operatic, with the plot advanced entirely through dialogue sung with accompanying music. The color photography is bright and vivid: and the whole is united by an orchestral score of simple but sincere rhythms and tunes that permeate continuously a story of events lasting at least five years.
The actors' voices were dubbed for the songs in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg:
- Danielle Licari: Geneviève Emery
- José Bartel: Guy Foucher
- Christiane Legrand: Madame Emery
- Georges Blaness: Roland Cassard
- Claudine Meunier: Madeleine
- Claire Leclerc: Aunt Élise
The film score established composer Michel Legrand's reputation in Hollywood, where he later scored other films, winning three Oscars. In North America, two of the film's songs became hits and were recorded by many artists: "I Will Wait For You" (the main theme) and "Watch What Happens" (originally "Recit de Cassard" "Cassard's Story"). Both were given new English lyrics by lyricist Norman Gimbel. Tony Bennett's classic performance of the theme song was added to one version of the soundtrack CD.
The film was originally shot on Eastman negative stock which rapidly faded and became almost unusable. In addition, the various copies of the film used in the cinema circuit also gradually lost their quality, which meant that Umbrellas could never be seen with the rich colours that Demy had originally intended.
Knowing that the Eastman stock would fade over time, Demy fortunately, had the three main yellow, cyan and magenta color separation masters made on black and white negative films that couldn't fade (a process similar to the creation of the older Technicolor process: see the article on Technicolor for an explanation of this 'three-strip' process).
These black-and-white prints had greater longevity and in the 1990s, Demy's wife, film director Agnès Varda, headed a project to create a new colour negative from the three black and white separations from which newly-restored full-color prints could then be made. The resulting film recaptured Demy's vision of a fantastically colourful Cherbourg.
In addition, composer Michel Legrand assisted in restoring the original 4-track stereo sound masters to digital and remastering his score to produce a higher-quality version, now available on CD.
- Prix Louis-Delluc, 1963
- Palme d'Or at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival
- Critics' prize for Best Film, by the French Syndicate of Film Critics, 1965
- Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 37th Academy Awards held in 1965
- Nominated for four more Academy Awards at the 38th Academy Awards held in 1966, three for Legrand and Demy, though it did not win any: "Best Song" (for "I Will Wait For You"), "Best Original Score", "Best Scoring - Adaptation or Treatment" and "Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen".
Stage adaptation 
In 2011, the Kneehigh Theatre Company presented the musical, starring Joanna Riding as Madame Emery, cabaret artist Meow Meow as the Maîtresse and Andrew Durand as Guy. The production was directed by Emma Rice. It was given tryouts at Leicester's Curve Theatre from 11 to 26 February 2011 and began previews in the West End at the Gielgud Theatre from 5 March, officially opening on 22 March. It was due to run until October 2011, but closed on 21 May 2011.
The West End cast as: 
The film was well received by critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 98% based on reviews from 48 critics, judging it "Certified Fresh" with the site's consensus: "Jacques Demy elevates the basic drama of everyday life into a soaring opera full of bittersweet passion and playful charm, featuring a timeless performance from Catherine Deneuve."
|This section requires expansion. (May 2013)|
See also 
- List of submissions to the 37th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of French submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- "Les Parapluies de Chrbourg". BFI TV & Film Database. London: British Film Institute. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
- At the Movies; A Woman Robs the Cradle, Bernard Weinraub, The New York Times, August 7, 1998
- Erickson, Glenn (2004-04-03). "DVD Savant Review: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg". dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
- "Festival de Cannes: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-02-28.
- "The 37th Academy Awards (1965) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
- "The 38th Academy Awards (1966) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
- "Riding, Meow to Lead West End Legrands The Umbrellas of Cherbourg"".Westend.Broadwayworld.com
- "Joanna Riding and Meow Meow to Star in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg at London’s Gielgud Theatre". Broadway.com, January 14, 2011
- "Umbrellas of Cherbourg". Londontheatre.co.uk
- "Umbrellas of Cherbourg West End Cast" UmbrellasofCherbough.com
- "Cannes Classics 2013 line-up unveiled". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
- Les Parapluies de Cherbourg at the Internet Movie Database
- The Umbrellas of Cherbourg at AllRovi
- The Umbrellas of Cherbourg at Rotten Tomatoes