The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a Technicolor musical marvel.
Set in 1950’s France, in the small town of Cherbourg Genevieve & her mother run an umbrella shop. Teenage Genevieve has fallen for Guy, a slightly older boy and the two are madly trying to hold onto their relationship even though Genevieve’s mother protests it. However, Guy is drafted into the French army and the young lovers are forced to separate. Shortly after Genevieve discovers she is with child and her mother convinces her to be pursued by a wealthy and doting jeweler.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg holds a cherished spot in film history because every word of dialogue is sung. It is astoundingly beautiful, though I am a little sad that as I don’t speak French I didn’t really get to enjoy the songs as sung. I had to read the subtitles. The problem with this film is that you can’t watch it late at night. I watched this film when I was a little sleepy and the calm pace and melodies nearly lulled me to sleep.
What I really enjoyed about The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is that for all intents and purposes this should be a very light, bright, fluffy movie. However, this is a movie with a bite.
Don’t watch The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and expect an American, high-energy, 1950’s musical; those musicals are great, but Cherbourg is very much a European film – just with a Hollywood golden-age flare.
Director & Writer: Jacques Demy
Genevieve Enery: Catherine Deneuve
Guy Foucher: Nino Castelnuovo
Madame Eme: Anne Vernon