04 November 2015

An Umbrella On The Trail

There are films I see for their artistry or historic or cultural significance.  Then there are movies that, I admit, I watch solely as entertainment, as harmless diversions. 

Then there are cinematic works that I simply must look at again and again because, really, there's nothing else like them and they defy categorization.  Among them are Vittoria de Sica's The Bicycle Thief and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, Fracois Truffaut's The 400 Blows and Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

That last one is perhaps the most uncategorizable of all.  If someone had told me, beforehand, that all of its dialogue is sung, I probably never would have looked at it, as I am not a fan of musicals.  However, it would never work if someone tried to cast it as a musical, whether on film or stage.  Hey, I think that even translating it into English would be almost criminal.

Also, the film is shot in a way that doesn't remind me of any other.  It's been compared to an Impressionist or Pointillist painting--which, in some ways, is a valid comparison.  It often uses color and form in ways similar to those of Auguste Renoir or Georges Seurat. It's actually worth seeing for that reason alone:  It's purely and simply beautiful to look at.  (So, for that matter, are Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuova.)  It reminds me of why someone described melancholy as "beautiful sadness".

I got to thinking about  Umbrellas and the painters I've mentioned after coming across this image:



  1. Love The Umbrellas of Cherbourg!

    When i first watched it on dvd (or probably VHS), I wasn't aware that the whole movie was sung. At first i thought it was just background music. Then the music just kept on going, but what a great soundtrack.

  2. Anon--I think it might be the best movie soundtrack, ever.