Movie Monday: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

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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.

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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.

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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!

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14 Responses

  1. Laura says:

    i love les parapluies de cherbourg! but i find the ending to be just depressing..

  2. Sarah says:

    I think I would love this! It’s going on my Netflix queue.
    Have you seen Godard’s A Woman is a Woman? It seems like something you would like. It was his take on the American musical. Visually stunning, smart, sweet – one of my favorites.

  3. zelina says:

    This looks like a fun movie. I love the colors thanks for the recomendation.

  4. This film looks like so much fun! It’s totally something I would be in to, though I would have to watch it when my boyfriend was out of the house as he hates musicals. haha. Great movie stills, the colors and sets are incredible.

  5. Joy says:

    So much fun! I remember watching this in French class once. The colors are amazing. Good fashion inspiration as well!

  6. Monique says:

    Certainly adding this one to my cue. I love the colors and yet seen a French Musical

  7. Heather says:

    That sounds awesome! I love musicals, so a French musical sounds like twice the fun! I just put this in my netflix queue.

  8. Love this movie, it’s beautifully shot! But indeed, the ending is so sad!

  9. kim says:

    I’ve seen this too, it was lovely. And still the only movie I’ve seen in which every line is sung.

  10. Alex says:

    Have you seen Les Demoiselles de Rochefort? Same director and Catherine Deneuve, it’s still candy coloured but with much more energy.
    They have done a West End production of Umbrellas, I went to see it recently and it was staged really well although it suffered from the same pacing issues you mentioned.

  11. miss james says:

    I ADORE THIS MOVIE! one of my favorite french films. so much eye candy! i kinda squealed when i saw that you featured it. :)

  12. Sue says:

    I’ve never seen this, but I love all the candy colored photos! Catherine Deneuve is so gorgeous!

  13. Feeona says:

    I watched this for the first time a few weeks ago… Very lovely. Catherine Deneuve is such a betty (-:

  14. Michelle e says:

    I watched this a couple months ago and really liked it. And I thought that Guy totally looks like your hubbie!! hahha