Monday, April 20, 2015

Les parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) (1964)

Today's film is The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. This movie is colorful and beautiful.  I love the jewel tones of Genevieve's house.  What's unique about this movie is that every single bit of dialog is sung, like an opera!

The first exposure I had to this film was while watching Futurama.  Fry's dog waits for 12 years for him to return, which he never does.  The song playing during the final scene is from this film.  If you listen, the music is repeated several times during Genevieve's speaking/singing parts.

The plot is pretty straightforward.  Genevieve loves Guy, but they are both young.  Genevieve lives with her mom and works at her umbrella shop, while Guy has been drafted into military service.  Since there was a war at the time, Guy expects to be gone for two years.  Since this is obviously Genevieve's first love, she is totally devastated.

Two months after Guy's departure, Genevieve discovers that she's pregnant.  Meanwhile, her mom's umbrella shop isn't doing too well.  They're running short on money, and it's probably because her mom, Emery, wears a brand new outfit every single scene.  I think she's spending way too much money, and when forced to sell her jewels to pay off debts, she doesn't want to.  She relents and decides to part with her pearl necklace, which catches the attention of a handsome jewel dealer, Roland.  Later, Roland confesses to Emery that he fell in love with Genevieve at first sight and would like to marry her.  Both of them are afraid to admit that she's pregnant to him.  Roland states that he's going away for business and will return a few months later for her answer.

A few months pass, and Genevieve is getting big! There is no way to hide her pregnancy any longer, and she is worried about what Roland might think.  Guy, the father, knows about the pregnancy and talks about it with her through the mail.  Roland doesn't care that she's pregnant, and wants to raise the baby as his own.  He loves Genevieve no matter what.  Genevieve is impressed and flattered.  She knows the baby needs a safe and secure household, and who knows - Guy could be killed in the war any day now.  Then, what would become of her?  She does what she thinks is right and accepts Roland's proposal so she and her baby can live the life of luxury and never have to resort to selling off possessions just to not lose their house.

Soon, Guy's military service is up!  He happily returns to Cherbourg, but Genevieve is not there.  Where is she?  Her mom has sold the umbrella shop and moved away.  Guy learns from his family that Genevieve married Roland and had her baby.  She didn't even bother telling him herself.  Guy is very depressed.

Later, Guy marries his friend Madeleine out of desperation, knowing he can't have his true love.  He has a son with her. He buys a gas station, like he promised to do with Genevieve.  Years pass, and a rich older Genevieve stops at his gas station with her daughter, Francoise.  Guy has named his son Francois.  She asks him if she wants to see his daughter, and he says no.  He's never seen her before and it would hurt too much.  They both quietly and uneventfully part ways.

Even though every line is sung, this film is more realistic than most romance movies because most people don't end up with their first true love, and they have to make the most of what they do have in life.  I will give this film an 8/10.

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