Donkey Skin (1970)
"Peau d'âne" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Family, Fantasy  |  20 December 1970 (France)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 2,601 users   Metascore: 70/100
Reviews: 36 user | 38 critic | 7 from

A fairy godmother helps a princess disguise herself so she won't have to marry a man she doesn't love.



(fairy tale),
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Cast overview, first billed only:
La princesse / La reine bleu
Le roi bleu
La reine rouge, la seconde reine
Le roi rouge, le seconde roi
Henri Crémieux ...
Le chef des médecins (as Henri Cremieux)
Sacha Pitoëff ...
Le premier ministre (The Minister) (as Sacha Pitoeff)
Pierre Repp ...
Jean Servais ...
La voix de (voice)
Georges Adet ...
Le savant
Annick Berger ...
Romain Bouteille ...
Le charlatan
Louise Chevalier ...
La vieille fermière
Sylvain Corthay ...


The education of a princess wrapped in a love story. A king and queen live happily until her sudden death. The king decides to marry his lovely daughter. She's willing, but the Lily Fairy serves as a social conscience, intent on thwarting incest. She instructs the princess to request a series of dresses impossible to make; however, the king's tailor succeeds. So the fairy plots the princess's escape, wearing the skin of the king's prize donkey. She's spirited away to be a scullery maid dressed in the noisome skin. A wandering prince sees her in the woods and is smitten. Can love find its course, and does the princess learn a lesson of life's hardships? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 December 1970 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Donkey Skin  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(restored version)| (original version)| (restored version)



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Donkey Skin proved to be Demy's biggest success in France with a total of 2,198,576 admissions. See more »


Le roi bleu: Have fairy-tale princesses all disappeared?
See more »


Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

Charming, light-hearted fun
19 April 2000 | by (Athens, Georgia) – See all my reviews

The fairy tale on which this colorful musical is based might not seem the most promising story for a light-hearted movie: as the story begins, a dying queen makes her husband promise that his next wife will be as beautiful as she, and his solution is to marry his own daughter. Fortunately, our heroine has a savvy confidante, the marcel-waved fairy godmother, whose worldly advice allows the girl to keep putting off the marriage. Finally, however, the princess has to flee her kingdom and, in a Cinderella twist, disguise herself as a lowly scullion. Fortunately, even covered in a donkey's skin, she manages to win the heart of a prince.

An enjoyably tongue-in-cheek combination of music, humor, and romance, this film features some of the most splendidly over-the-top costumes I've ever seen, and an adorable soft-focus, slow-motion duet between the two young lovers (with hilariously anachronistic lyrics). Actor Jean Marais, who distinguished himself in a very different fairy tale film --Cocteau's -La Belle et la Bete- --makes a distinguished if warped king, and Catherine Deneuve charms as she bakes a cake while singing the recipe--and daintily keeping her ruffled sleeves out of the batter. The fairy godmother is probably the most enjoyable character, a modish lady in high heels who has her own ideas about the king's proper romantic destiny. A plus for tourists is that much of the film takes place in actual French castles, including the one with the famous double-helix staircase.

Those who prefer a darker slant to fairy tales may enjoy reading Robin McKinley's novel -Deerskin-, based on the same story. But if -The Slipper and the Rose- is more your speed, or if you want something appropriate for all ages, track down -Donkey Skin-. Just be prepared if your daughter demands a dress the color of the moon next Halloween.

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