The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) Movie Review: The Original La La Land (2016)

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

This is Damien Chazelle’s favorite movie. The beloved French musical by Jacques Demy that inspired Chazelle to create La La Land has enchanted audiences for more than fifty years. Indeed, this is a musical treasure because it is almost like an opera since all of the dialogue is sung. Not only that, but the singing is in French, which is one of the world’s most romantic languages. It is very fitting that this film is a French musical because it allows for a completely different take on a cinematic romance while also maintaining the classic themes and motifs of a typical Hollywood love story.

A Toast

This film features beautiful pastel-like colors, some of the greatest singing in the French language (as well as in any other language), and a beautiful performance by a young Catherine Deneuve. Deneuve earned her only Academy Award nomination nearly three decades later for her leading role in Indochine (1992), but this film features one of her most beloved performances. Nino Castelnuovo is the leading man as Guy Foucher, a devoted lover whose life changes after receiving a draft notice to join the war in Algiers. The classic theme of two lovers torn apart by dire circumstances has appeared in numerous stories ranging from the famous Arthurian legend of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Some might argue that is film is too cliché and sentimental, but that is the point of this film. It really is supposed to be a simple love story, and that simplicity makes it beautiful.

Verdict

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is Jacques Demy’s masterpiece. One critic described it as bittersweet, but also charming. During one of the re-releases of this film, the famous critic Roger Ebert famously remarked that theaters needed to be built in order to screen this beloved film. Many people do adore the beautiful singing along with the romantic elements. It is also safe to say that La La Land would not even exist if this film had never been produced. Thank you, Jacques Demy, for giving the world your cinematic triumph. Merci beaucoup!

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: whenever Geneviève Emery cries on-screen

Take a Drink: during every heartbreaking moment

Drink a Shot: every time any of the characters talk about amour (which is French for “love”)

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