The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg [DVD] 
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A story of lost love, with all the dialogue sung rather than spoken. In the French seaside town of Cherbourg, Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve, in her first screen role) discovers that she is pregnant by her boyfriend, Guy (Nino Castelnuovo). When Guy is drafted into the army, Genevieve marries diamond merchant Roland Cassard (Marc Michel), even though she still loves Guy. She is destined for one last encounter with her true love, in a frosty Esso gas station.
Jacques Demy's haunting romantic musical is an enchanting, one-of-a-kind musical experience. It's basically a movie operetta, in which the characters sing all the dialogue (or, rather, lyrics--by director Demy) to Michel Legrand's lovely score. The story spans five years (1957-1962) in the life of Geneviéve (the ethereally beautiful Catherine Deneuve in the role that launched her to international stardom), the teenage daughter of a woman who owns a Cherbourg umbrella shop. After Geneviéve's boyfriend Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) is drafted and sent off to Algeria, she discovers she's pregnant and complications ensue. With its dazzling candy-coloured palette, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg looks sweet and dreamy. Restored and re-released in 1995 to rapturous acclaim and the renewed delight of all who got the chance to see it. The video release is taken from the restored version. --Jim Emerson, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This movie is a wonderful, very unique and unconventional musical, and in the DVD transfer the sound quality is as important as the quality of the picture.
There are three DVD releases of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) out at the moment. I have a copy of each. I also have the soundtrack on CD. The French version (from www.amazon.fr) of the DVD has by far the best image quality, but rather harsh (though correct pitch) sound. The US version (amazon.com) has inferior picture but has a more listenable soundtrack.
The brand new UK (Optimum) version that this review is about essentially appears to be a straightforward (crude) PAL conversion of the US NTSC release. There is no discernable difference in picture quality between the two releases, and the sound of the UK version is simply sped up, so the pitch is a semitone too high. The pitch shift is very obvious, especially if one is familiar with the original soundtrack. This is inexcusable, when it is so easy to achieve the PAL speedup (using rather basic sound processing software) without shifting pitch.
The higher pitch of this release takes away the sweetness of the female voice and the warmth of the male vocals. I would advise against purchasing this release of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.
I would recommend getting either the US release which has the best sound of all three, or the French release, which has the best picture (and, despite being PAL, correct pitch sound).
Having never seen a Jacque Demy film before, or a French Musical, I had no idea what to expect, and bought this after seeing an interview with Catherine Deneuve on UK TV, where the presenter, Jonathan Ross, gave it glowing reviews. It certainly is a beautiful film, the use of colour is stunning, the direction beautiful, and brilliantly performed by all the actors. As for the music, the film is sung from start to finish, not a single spoken word, and it works well, the actors lip synching perfect. The film is in 3 specific sections; (I don’t want to give too much away) the before, the absence and the return, and what I particularly liked about this film, is that it may be a musical, but it still has a powerful emotional punch, not a light ‘Hollywood’ theme. This isn’t ‘Grease’, this is more ‘Evita’ in that it is a film dealing with serious issues; unwanted pregnancy, parental pressure, death, war and more. The final scene was perfectly realised, and brought a tear to my eye.
The extras: Knowing nothing about Jacque Demy, the 90 documentary on his life and films is fascinating, and an excellent introduction into how he works and his love of film. It was great to see rare footage of Jim Morrison and a pre-fame Harrison Ford pop up, amongst many stars (Catherine Deneuve for starters) lending their thoughts about this great filmmaker. Not only that, it has encouraged me to see more of his films, especially the musical ‘Donkey Skin’ which sounds and looks magical. There is also a beautiful short film (not directed by Demy) with music by Legrand (who did the music for Umbrellas and most of his other musicals) that is an interesting watch.
One of the comments below discusses the quality of this release – it was perfect as far as I could see, excellent sound and picture, however, I haven’t seen the other versions so I can’t comment.
Any one who is failed to be moved by the awesome railway scene must be lacking of all emotion.
This is a must see movie if ever there was one. And you want to see it, share it and remeber it forever.
The music is continous, and varied from Big Band Swing to lush Strings, and traditional Accordian arrangements. The classic score from Michel Legrand includes the classic theme 'I will wait for you'.
There is no spoken word, every bit of dialoge is sung in French.(subtitles are available).
From the new wave of film making in the 1960's this Jacques Demy film won the Palma d'Or at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival.
Demy and Legrand collaborated for many years, and most of their films were produced on a low budget. It is sometimes called his trbute to Hollywood, and he was invited to make films there when Umberellas of Cherbourg was an international success, but it is not Hollywood, it is essentialy French.
Catherine Deneuve plays Genevieve Emery, a 17 year old working with her Mother in their Umbrella Shop. She is radiant and in love with Guy Foucher (Nino Castelnuovo) a young motor Mechanic, who lives with his ailing Aunt Elise, looked after by Madelline. Set in 1957, their romance is ended when Guy has to serve 2 years National Service,in the army fighting a war with Algeria. They make love and plan to marry on his return. Genevieve is pregnant, and short of money, her overbearing Mother persuades her to marry a rich Diamond Merchant Roland Cassard (Marc Michel), whom they meet when she is trying to sell a necklace at the Jewellers.
Guy returns to find the shop closed, and no word from Genevieve, but he is changed also, and whilst a slight leg injury heals, the film explores the problems of settling back to civillian life.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic story and music. One need to he patient for the first 20 minutes to get used to the opera style.Published 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
Another delightful Demy film. The colours are even more luminous in HD and, although the Extras are a tad on the breezy side, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole package. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Stagger Lee
I loved this musical film. It is typically French, of course, with lashings of pathos and sadness, but beautiful music.Published 7 months ago by Mr. Iain Mair
There is no other film I know of like this with every line being sung rather than spoken. Even in the opening scene when someone is picking up his car from the garage. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Rip
French epic film
I watch it every year
Understated and nostalgic