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Told in four acts, the lives of Geneviève Emery and Guy Foucher of Cherbourg France are presented. Act 1 begins in November 1957, when sixteen year old Geneviève, who works in her widowed mother's umbrella shop called "Les parapluies de Cherbourg", and twenty year old Guy, who works as a mechanic at a gas station, are madly in love and want to get married. They are reluctant to tell anyone not only of their want to get married, but of their relationship. Geneviève believes her mother will think her too young, and would want her to marry someone with better prospects, especially considering her own tenuous financial situation. And Guy is more concerned now about not abandoning his ailing godmother, Aunt Élise, who raised him, and who he looks after along with a young woman named Madeleine. Act 2, told largely from Geneviève's perspective, begins in February 1958. Guy, drafted to fight for the French in Algeria, has been gone for two months, and is expected to be gone for two years. ... Written by
In the beginning of the film, set in 1957, there is a picture in Guy's locker at work of Marilyn Monroe wearing an orange boat-neck shirt, . The photograph was taken by George Barris in 1962 during her last photo shoot. See more »
Why didn't you tell me?
I didn't want to say anything. I thought you knew. You didn't suspect.
Of course, over the last few months. Her letters were not the same. She didn't answer my questions. She was writing without conviction. But marrying another man! I thought she was mad at me.
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An offbeat but beautifully stylised and colourful piece of cinema
This must be amongst the most distinctive, idiosyncratic and exquisite films I have seen in a long while. There is nothing particularly new about the plot, which is a straightforward and uncomplicated love story divided into three acts, but the beauty of this film is in the telling of it.
All the dialogue in this film is sung, which at first is a little unsettling, but it actually takes very little time to adjust to. The verse/chorus format of popular music and the musical genre is eschewed for an approach more resembling a modern opera, as the characters croon their lines to each other over a continuous score. This gives the most banal of lines a rhythm and cadence of their own. Because of this I found the French a lot easier to understand than with more naturalistic films, which was fairly handy for me as the print I was watching was with Dutch subtitles! I must confess, I did find that the music (written by Michel Legrand) began to grate towards the end of the 87 minute running time but even so there is still much to admire here. Visually it's stunning, with a bold and vibrant colour palette of almost hallucinogenic intensity and sumptuous costume and set design (that wallpaper!). The opening credit sequence sets the mood perfectly: a birds eye view of the inhabitants of Cherbourg in the rain beneath their umbrellas as they walk across the frame is reduced to a colourful abstraction. Catherine Deneuve is predictably gorgeous and the first act of the young couples courtship is one of the most beautifully pure pieces of cinema I can think of. It reminded me a bit of 'Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris', a film which I saw in television a long time ago and would do absolutely anything to get hold of a copy. 'Les Parapluies de Cherbourg' is a wonderful, sincere and uplifting film that everyone should go and see at least once, and preferably on a big screen. Once seen, never forgotten.
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