Festival de Cannes 70: Les parapluies de Cherbourg, 1964

A sunny shout-out to 70 winners at the Cannes Film Festival to celebrate the 70th event which is just around the corner – in no particular order.

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Harmoniously and heart-renderingly written and directed by Jacques Demy, with the music written by Michel Legrand, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) is a rare thing – a musical that delivers every line of dialogue through song, without coming over saccharine, awkward, or unaffecting. Many have tried since and failed, or perhaps not quite hit the mark set here. A story of romance through three intelligently defined chapters, the film’s leads Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo, light up the screen with adoration, woe, and longing. The stellar photography and the full use of color for the costume and (in particular) set design, fortify the whole affair with a true-to-the-heart radiance and remorse. As well as Guy and Geneviève’s deep love, the never over-stated sub-plots feature a disapproving mother, ailing aunt, a pregnancy, a suitor in Guy’s absence (Roland from Demy’s prior film Lola) and an unrequited love. Les Parapluies de Cherbourg was sandwiched between Lola (1961) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967) in an unofficial trilogy, and won the Palme d’Or (then renamed ‘Grand Prix International du Festival’). Although four Academy Award nominations spread across Foreign Film, music, and writing, the film is sinfully under-rewarded in that field, given the huge success of future ventures that were heavily inspired by this. You’re very welcome, Damien Chazell.

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