The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
1964 | Musical | 91 minutes | French with English subtitles
Madame Emery and her beautiful 17-year old daughter Geneviève own a struggling umbrella boutique in the French coastal town of Cherbourg. Guy is a handsome young auto mechanic working nearby. Guy lives with his sickly aunt who is cared for by Madeleine, a young woman secretly in love with Guy. Guy and Geneviève meet, fall deeply in love, and plan to marry. But they are going to have to wait. Guy is drafted in the French army. Before he leaves for combat in Algeria, he and Geneviève pledge their undying love. While Guy is away, Geneviève learns she’s pregnant. She writes Guy but his responses are not forthcoming. Genevieve, with the strong urging of her mother, marries the wealthy Roland, who accepts her pregnancy. Released from the army, Guy returns to Cherbourg and finds that Geneviève is married. Madeleine steps up and professes her love for Guy. They marry and together open an American-style gas station.They have a son and appear to be a happy family. One day, Geneviève appears at the gas station, not knowing it’s owned by Guy, her former love. Guy comes out and as their eyes meet there is a moment of awkwardness. Will the appearance of Geneviève after all these years disrupt Guy’s new life and his happiness with Madeleine and their son? Umbrellas is entirely sung, music by Michel Legrand and lyrics by Jacques Demy.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 98%
- Metacritic Score: 86
Cannes Film Festival: Winner, Palme d’Or; OCIC Award (Jacques Demy)
Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Foreign Language Film; Best Screenplay (Jacques Demy); Best Musical Score (Michel Legrand, Jacques Demy)
Golden Globes: Nominated, Best Foreign Language Film
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Digitally restored with unusual delicacy, it continues to charm and delight for the same reasons it did back in 1964. Winner of the Palme d’Or in Cannes and nominated for five Oscars, UMBRELLAS is a one-of-kind venture.
When she made UMBRELLAS for the French director Jacques Demy, Deneuve was 20. Her work in this film introduced one of the great stars of modern French cinema. UMBRELLAS is remembered as a bold original experiment, and now that it is restored and back in circulation, it can also be remembered as a surprisingly effective film, touching and knowing and, like Deneuve, ageless.
Catherine Deneuve brings an unworldly, subtly erotic charm to Jacques Demy’s pastel rainbow of a musical. UNBRELLAS has to be one of the most famous non-Hollywood musicals of all time: entirely sung through, like a light opera of the semi-singing French 60s.
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