Les Parapluies de Cherbourg
is a french film musical
first released in 1964, directed by Jacques Demy
. It is remarkable for its lack of big chorus
numbers or dance
s. Every word is sung
- there is no spoken dialogue
It is set in France in 1958. The two main characters, Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve) and Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) are lovers and the film is the story of their separation. Guy has to join the army for two years, and Genevieve gets pregnant just before he leaves. In his absence Genevieve has to decide whether to wait for him or marry the better match, Roland Cassard. This is not a feel-good film. The ending is unexpected and poignant.
France was at war with Algeria at this time, which was why Guy had to enlist. The war is rarely mentioned, however, except by Guy. The name of the film translates as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and is so called because Genevieve's mother owns an umbrella shop. Michel Legrand wrote the soundtrack. The theme song of the film and the most famous one in it is "I will wait for you", sung by Genevieve as Guy leaves.
Catherine Deneuve as Genevieve (This was her 12th film, and she has now appeared in 98 french films), Nino Castelnuovo as Guy, Anne Vernon as Genevieve's mother, Marc Michel as Roland Cassard - the man her mother wants her to marry, Mireille Perrey as Guy's elderly Aunt Elise and Ellen Farner as her carer, Madeleine. The singing is not done by the actors:
Danielle Licari sang Geneviève, José Bartel sang Guy, Christiane Legrand sings Madame Emery, Georges Blaness sings Roland Cassard, Claudine Meunier sings Madeleine and Claire Leclerc sings Aunt Élise.
Les Parapluies De Cherbourg is 90 minutes long. For a long time until 1996 it was near-impossible to get hold of, but in 1996 it was rereleased it's now available on DVD, with english subtitles. Knowing french isn't necessary to enjoy the film, but the subtitles do miss some of the beauty of the dialogue.