The Vern looks back at The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

This review appeared previously on The Vern’s Videovanguard

After watching La La Land for a second time.  My sister pointed out  a lot of references to old musicals in terms of costumes and dance moves.  One movie that stuck out for me a lot in terms of storytelling and even style was the 1964 Jacques Demy feature The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.   When you watch it, you can notice that it’s taken at least 50 plus years to bring this kind of movie musical popular again.  Here is an older review that Vern wrote a while back.



Cast:  Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo

Writer and Director: Jacques Demy

Let me start off this review by stating that I am not a fan of musicals.  I find a lot of them to be very annoying and the songs are just horrible.  The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a movie I should despise because the whole entire movie has nothing but singing in it.  There is not one word of spoken dialogue throughout the whole thing.   At first I found this to be kind of lame because none of the lyrics are put to any type of song structure.  The music by Michael Legrand makes it sound like it could be a song but when you listen to it closely. It sounds more like words being sung than an actual musical number.    But as I got more into the story I found myself concentrating more on the actors performances and found the singing really helps enhance the characters’ emotions more than actual dialogue could do.  This is one of the best movies I have seen and I hope it gets a release on Blueray soon.


The  story centers around a young couple(Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo) very much in love. They talk(sing) about what they would like to name their kids, and where they would want to live. It’s all very colorful and innocent.   Despite some harmless bickering from the girl’s mother(Anne Vernon) who feels her daughter could choose a better mate.  The two seemed to be destined to be together.   Than word comes around that the boy has been drafted in the army and would have to leave.   While apart the two begin meeting new people and even though they are nice.  Our young couple stays strong in the hopes they will see each other again very soon.


I could delve more into the story, but this is a movie that you will either see or you won’t.  Many of you will pass on it because it’s a musical.  A lot of you won’t see it because it’s in french with subtitles.  The performances from all the lead actors are all very good.  It’s not easy to covey spoken dialog into a song and still convey such strong emotions when you do.   The cinematography from Jean Rabier is just stunning.  The color of France in the 60’s just seem to pop like strawberry bubblegum.    This is the type of movie that Blueray was made for.  The setting and the costume along with the soundtrack would be stunning in  high definition.

(Siskel and Ebert’s Review)

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