Movie Monday: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is the name of an umbrella shop, owned by a beautiful lady and her charming daughter, Genevieve, played by Catherine Deneuve. On the streets outside the shop, a romance blossoms between the pretty Genevieve and the dashing Guy, who works at an automotive shop nearby.
The two steal away from their lives, spending nights at the opera and various cafes around Cherbourg. Genevieve finally reveals to her mother that she is in love and plans to marry Guy. Alarmed, the mother cautions her daughter against making a mistake at such a young age, and encourages her to wait. Genevieve and Guy are faced with no other choice but to postpone their marriage, as he is drafted in the military and will be gone for two years. They promise each other that they will be faithful to their love until he returns, but other circumstances unfold that complicate the situation beyond what either of them have imagined.
This French musical is different than most American ones from the era, in that there is no dialogue spoke, only sung. It’s almost like a modern opera brought to the screen. I particularly enjoyed the brightly laquered sets and pastel candy-coated images of beautiful people drinking tea from lovely cups and saucers. It’s certainly a treat for the eyes.
The structure of the plot exists in three parts: falling in love; the lovers’ separation; and Guy’s return. The first part is full of fluff, just lots of crooning about love, necking, and the bliss of two good looking people who think they’re in love. Part two is full of aching and difficult decision making. It’s more of the “real world,” as much as is possible in a 1960’s operatic musical. And the last part of the film is so unbearingly nostalgic, with a nice blend of sad longing and hope for the future.
I thought the movie was darling, and even moving in certain respects. Of course, you have to understand, I am an extremely nostalgic soul. Following along with the captions was not difficult, as the dialogue moves slowly with the music. I will admit, beginning this film, I thought it might be super cheesy and filled with only a lot of fluff. But I was pleased to find the film interesting in several aspects, and so, I think you should give it a try too!