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
Unlike Demy's Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Donkey Skin is a lighted-hearted and witty musical. Catherine Deneuve is luminous as always in the role of the princess; however, Delphine Seyrig (Last Year at Marienbad, Muriel, Stolen Kisses) gives an outstanding performance as the fairy godmother, and really steals the show. I agree with the previous writer's praise for this film, but the synopsis of the story is severely misleading. This is not really a Cinderella story. Deneuve plays a princess, who must assume a demeaning disguise in order to escape her father's incestuous plans to marry her, she being the only princess more beautiful than the deceased queen. Seyrig, an otherwise ineffectual fairy godmother, sings a charming, humorous song in order to convince the princess that it is wrong for children to marry their parents. The princess, before finally fleeing to a neighboring kingdom, solicits the king for three dresses and finally the skin of his prized donkey in order to thwart his plans. She does not direct these requests to the prince and there is nothing in the film about the donkey skin precipiating the financial ruin of the kingdom. Highly Recommended and a must-see for fans both of French cinema and the musical. This is yet another example of how the French make more profound and entertaining musicals than us Americans. The Michel Legrand score is outstanding.
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