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Umbrellas Of Cherbourg
cast: Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo, and Marc Michel

director: Jacques Demy

87 minutes (U) 1963
widescreen 1.85:1
Tartan DVD Region '0' retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Steven Hampton
It's the end of the 1950s, and shop-girl Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve) is madly in love with mechanic, Guy (Nino Castelnuovo). When he gets conscripted to fight in Algeria for two years they spend a night together but, after discovering she's pregnant, the teenager marries wealthy jeweller, Roland (Marc Michel), and moves to Paris. Will she ever see Guy again?
   At last, a French film nobody can accuse of being talky! Deneuve is amazing in her first major film role, where all the dialogue is sung to superb accompaniment of Michel Legrand's haunting and internationally popular score. Far more than just an offbeat curiosity, The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg (aka: Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) is an admirable romantic musical drama, with intensely colourful cinematography (beautifully restored by Agnès Varda in 1990s). English subtitles permit better appreciation of the exquisite French vocals, and this delightful and charming cinematic experiment, which cleverly avoids the heaviness of other filmed opera without sacrificing any of the emotional subtleties, would simply not be the same in a dubbed version. A sequel, The Young Girls Of Rochefort (1968), tried to repeat the vivid formula, but failed.
   DVD extras: stunning reproduction of film's brightly painted sets, Dolby stereo sound, only three photos in the picture gallery, text filmographies of star plus director and composer, scene access in 16 chapters, plus a review by Kim Newman.

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