Adélaïde, Belle, Félicie and Ludovic are young adult siblings who once lived in grandeur until their father's merchant ships were lost at sea. The family is now near ruin, but Adélaïde and ... See full summary »
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
'Peau D'Ane/Donkey Skin' is an unexpected delight that more than justified getting up at an ungodly hour of the morning to get uptown to catch a very early morning show.
Jacques Demy's fairytale musical has one of the most gorgeous uses of color ever seen thanks to Ghislain Coquet's photography and the sumptuous visual design (one kingdom has blue-clad, blue-faced servants and blue horses, the other red-clad red-faced servants and red horses), and the script manages to juggle just enough knowing wit without turning into total parody despite featuring a donkey that craps rubies and emeralds, a crone who spits frogs and a king who wants to marry his daughter in the one film about incest that's still suitable for the whole family, it's played admirably straight. Michel Legrand's songs are as pleasant as they are unmemorable and anarchic (one romantic duet features lyrics about snack bars while another is simply a recipe for a cake) and if Catherine Deneuve's voice double sings even worse than Deneuve acts, it still somehow comes across as charming (although things do go badly for the donkey). Beautiful stylistic touches abound, from the princess running in slow motion through frozen villagers to the how-did-they-do-that-then? dress the color of the weather, but never at the expense of the storytelling. Not quite up there with 'Umbrellas of Cherbourg,' but light years ahead of 'Les Demoiselles de Rochefort.' The French 2-disc DVD boasts a beautifully restored subtitled transfer and most of the extras are subtitled in English.
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