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
To me, Donkey Skin (Peau d'Ane) is like Jean Cocteau reborn into the French New Wave(!). Gorgeous and stylized, it's a fairytale told with the cinematic magic we've come to expect from director Jacques Demy. This is a fairytale that adults will enjoy more than children, as it's full of dark humor. Ms. Deneuve is stunning as always, and the sassy fairy is also wonderful. Surreal and bizarre, Donkey Skin traps you into its world of bold colors, real-life french châteaux, living statues, and loads of fairy magic. But Demy doesn't seem content to let the viewer completely lose him/herself in the world he's created. The movie is full of self-references, something Demy had partly explored earlier with The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, but really let himself have fun with in Donkey Skin. For just when you come to believe the magic, Demy likes to remind you that this is just a movie. With only a smudge of dirt and an animal skin, the beautiful princess (Deneuve) is transformed on screen into the ugliest girl in the entire kingdom, so ugly that whenever she shares the screen with other characters, they all look on in horror. We still see a beautiful woman, under the dirt on her face and the donkey skin on her back, and we are reminded that this is only a movie-world. The helicopter is an amazing touch, and it made the movie for me. I won't say more, see it for yourself! (The reprint is currently making its rounds and is well worth it!)
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