Those who want a musical like any other musical will not find it in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Those who find the idea of having every line in the film entirely sung grating, Jacques Demy knew it would turn you off too. With The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Jacques Demy already knew what audiences are set to expect when they hear the label of “musical” being used to describe a film but he turns around desires into a greater melancholy. In the nature of the French New Wave, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg goes ahead to carry more of their experimental traits and now we have one that takes the approach to the Hollywood musical. Then it becomes clear why The Umbrellas of Cherbourg works as wonderfully: it isn’t a musical anymore.
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What defines a feel-good film? I’m probably not one to be asked this question with a generally pessimistic outlook upon life, but when I think of something that brings a more joyful sight to my life, one of the first films that I point to is none other than Jacques Demy’s The Young Girls of Rochefort. Following up The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, what Jacques Demy churns out is something completely different – stylistically and tonally. In The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, what Jacques Demy created was a musical whose dialogue all had been sung together with an incredibly heartbreaking narrative, but The Young Girls of Rochefort gives out something else all around, something more cheerful and bliss. Whenever I watch The Young Girls of Rochefort, I feel an unusual sense of joy running down my spine. Something that to some extent makes me feel more optimistic about life, which I rarely feel. Continue reading →