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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 6 February 2006
(Read the synopsis of the film above)
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.
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on 11 May 2017
Excellent
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on 17 March 2017
The original La La Land!
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on 8 July 2017
Wonderful DVD
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on 2 March 2017
Fantastic film!
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on 27 March 2017
I've been curious about this film for about 20 years. I've always been interested in watching it, but never got around to ordering it. Well, I ordered the Blu Ray yesterday, selected the free 1 day delivery, and watched it tonight.

Wow! What a piece of cinematic joy! The restoration for its 50th anniversary is magnificent. (Interestingly paid for by Luis Vutton and the City of Cherbourg, among many other organisations.)

And on Blu Ray on a large HD TV, it's like being in a cinema. The film grain is very obvious, but this adds to the cinematic experience. Colours are bright and dazzling, the image is razor sharp and the sound is fantastic. You almost feel yourself drowning in the orchestra during the big scenes.

I've read a few reviews about people not realising this is an all-singing movie, with no spoken word at all. These reviewers call it silly at best, and garbage at worst. Really? Hasn't the world moved on and Les Mis and all the other 'all-sung' musicals have been around for decades. Sorry, but this isn't strange and weird anymore, like it was in 1964. In fact this movie was about 20 years ahead of its time. Lucky for us movies like this were made at a time when producers were willing to take a huge risk, which in this case paid off.

If you're like me and love classic cinema, but you're hesitant to spend the money on this disc because of its reputation of being a "weird, all-sung in French with subtitles piece of rubbish" ..... just get it. Yes it's all sung, yes it's in French, yes there are subtitles to read. But it's also cinematic bliss, as well as being a piece of cinematic history. The Blu Ray is phenomenal, and Michel Legrand's music is BRILLIANT!!
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 18 October 2016
This review contains slight spoilers!

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a remarkable film, both for its originality in being entirely sung throughout, and its psychological power. Unlike most opera, it really has a very astute handle on realities of every kind: romantic love, the effect of absence, war, the difficulty of readjusting to civilian life, the influence of older people, ambiguity of feeling on all fronts. Everything is very subtly portrayed, yet it has a concrete emphasis that arises out of the song itself, and the way it slows down the action to something archetypal, while filling it in with nuances and bright colours. Michel Legrand's music is key to its success, having a real impact on the emotions, and gliding from recitative to yearning melodies. The mother/daughter relationship is brilliantly handled, set against the brightest imaginable wallpapers and fabrics, the tone being both camp and straight. The influence of Max Ophuls's Madame de ... is clear in the jeweller's shop episode, as well as a continuation of the story set up in his own Lola, with a flashback to the amazing arcade in Nantes, here seen in colour ... The two suitors for the daughter, Genevieve, are wonderfully cast, adding to the heartbreak of the film, in that both are very worthy of love; in fact there are no villains here, only real life. Essentially, though, you can't help feeling that it is a tragedy of the kind that no doubt happens all too often, whatever the ambiguities of the outcome: that of being influenced by a well-meaning parent who made the same mistake herself, and who is projecting through her daughter her own unfulfilled desires, albeit unintentionally. At the heart of it all is Catherine Deneuve, combining prettiness and beauty in a way almost unmatched. She is so real in the emotional scenes, it is staggering, and her love with garage mechanic Guy is intensely romantic, and given the best tune. The film shifts in emphasis between its three parts, so that the mother and daughter feature in the second but hardly in the third ...

Of Jacques Demy's musicals this is the one that is the most famous, and it was also the first. It might be seen as the most realistic, in spite of the colours and the singing, where Les Demoiselles de Rochefort is a fantasy about ideal love, always deferred, and Une Chambre En Ville takes the full-on tragic tone, and is also through-sung. They make an extraordinary statement from a director whose heart must have been completely in this form.
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on 21 September 2011
What a gem of pure enchantment this musical film is. Whatching this is an amazing experience. The colour is magical and enhanced, like a world looking in upon the real world, whilst also being very realisic.
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. He has his old job but unable to take orders with his former optimism and charm, he leaves it. When his Aunt dies round about 1960, he follows his dream with his legacy, and opens up a Petrol Station, finds new happiness and marries Madelline, with whom he has a son Francois. In 1963 Genevieve passes through Cherbourg with their daughter Francoise around Christmastime, a wealthy lady, in a black Mercedes, on her way back to Paris from Anjou but there is only a cold acceptance between them, like the winter weather. Life moves on.

On disc two there is a 90 minute documentary 'The world of Jacques Demy' including clips from some of his other works. Also a very charming short film 'L'Amerique Lunaire' with the music of Michel Legrand, plus Trailers, and an introduction by Geoff Andrew. All very informative and fascinating. Well worth the money, and I would rate it at 8 stars at least.
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A semi followup to Jacques Demy's Lola - both Michel Legrand's main theme and Marc Marcel's character return - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is surprisingly upbeat despite its subject matter. A traditional lost love story set against the backdrop of the Algerian War that separates the lovers, it opts for a less than traditional realistic ending that shows how their lives change, not necessarily for the worse, after they are parted. It's last act is darker than people give it credit, dealing with the young hero's disillusion on his return, oddly enough made more affecting by the triteness of what precedes it. While shot in some of the most glorious colour imagery ever seen, the dialogue is little more than sung banalities, whether it's a declaration of undying love or an extra asking where the paint shop is, which somehow grounds it. Even the location of the finale, an Esso filling station, is ultimately mundane, yet somehow becomes a gloriously romantic location for a wistfully bitter parting.

While Tartan's original and now deleted PAL DVD release offered a good enough transfer on the film, it's extras-light compared to the Optimum two-disc set which also includes the feature length documentary The World of Jacques Demy aka L'Univers de Jacques Demy, Agnes Varda's second film about her husband (after her semi-fictionalised film about his childhood, Jacquot de Nantes). It eschews a chronological approach for a more scrapbook like amble through his career, which is one way of avoiding the inevitable decline of his career and ending on a high. Utilizing archive interviews, on-set footage, reuniting co-stars and hearing from fans (mostly teenage girls), surprises abound, such as footage of Demy and Harrison Ford hanging around while shooting tests for his forgotten US sequel to Lola, Model Shop (Ford was replaced by Gary Lockwood at the studio's insistence Ford would never be a box-office star) or a chubby Jim Morrison visiting the set of Peau D'Ane. While it offers ample inadvertent examples of why much of his post-60s work was less than successful - many of the more obscure films look simply awful - it does make you want to see the odd lesser-known work like the surprisingly dark looking The Pied Piper, and the 90 minutes pass surprisingly easily.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 19 March 2012
This review contains slight spoilers!

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a remarkable film, both for its originality in being entirely sung throughout, and its psychological power. Unlike most opera, it really has a very astute handle on realities of every kind: romantic love, the effect of absence, war, the difficulty of readjusting to civilian life, the influence of older people, ambiguity of feeling on all fronts. Everything is very subtly portrayed, yet it has a concrete emphasis that arises out of the song itself, and the way it slows down the action to something archetypal, while filling it in with nuances and bright colours. Michel Legrand's music is key to its success, having a real impact on the emotions, and gliding from recitative to yearning melodies. The mother/daughter relationship is brilliantly handled, set against the brightest imaginable wallpapers and fabrics, the tone being both camp and straight. The influence of Max Ophuls's Madame de ... is clear in the jeweller's shop episode, as well as a continuation of the story set up in his own Lola, with a flashback to the amazing arcade in Nantes, here seen in colour ... The two suitors for the daughter, Genevieve, are wonderfully cast, adding to the heartbreak of the film, in that both are very worthy of love; in fact there are no villains here, only real life. Essentially, though, you can't help feeling that it is a tragedy of the kind that no doubt happens all too often, whatever the ambiguities of the outcome: that of being influenced by a well-meaning parent who made the same mistake herself, and who is projecting through her daughter her own unfulfilled desires, albeit unintentionally. At the heart of it all is Catherine Deneuve, combining prettiness and beauty in a way almost unmatched. She is so real in the emotional scenes, it is staggering, and her love with garage mechanic Guy is intensely romantic, and given the best tune. The film shifts in emphasis between its three parts, so that the mother and daughter feature in the second but hardly in the third ...

Of Jacques Demy's musicals this is the one that is the most famous, and it was also the first. It might be seen as the most realistic, in spite of the colours and the singing, where Les Demoiselles de Rochefort is a fantasy about ideal love, always deferred, and Une Chambre En Ville takes the full-on tragic tone, and is also through-sung. They make an extraordinary statement from a director whose heart must have been completely in this form. The second disc on the 2-DVD edition includes a fascinating 90-minute documentary by his wife Agnes Varda, again one of three that she made about Demy, that likewise spring from total dedication and could hardly be more moving; there is also another short with music by Legrand and an introduction by Geoff Andrew, making up a remarkable package.
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