Les Parapluies de Cherbourg

From Academic Kids

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) is a musical film made in 1964. It was directed by Jacques Demy, and starred Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo. The music was written by Michel Legrand.

The film is unusual in that all the dialogue is sung, even relatively unimportant lines.



Madame Emery and her daughter Geneviève (Deneuve) sell umbrellas at a boutique in Cherbourg. Geneviève is in love with Guy (Castelnuovo), an auto mechanic who cares for his great-aunt along with Madeleine (Ellen Farner), a young woman who obviously loves Guy. Subsequently, though, Guy must leave to fight in the Algerian War. Months later, Geneviève is pregnant and lovelorn. At her mother's insistence, she marries Roland Cassard (Marc Michel), a wealthy jeweller who is in love with Geneviève and who is willing to wed her despite the fact that she is bearing another man's child.

When Guy returns from Algeria, he learns that Geneviève has left Cherbourg and that the umbrella store has been sold to a new owner. He attempts to ease back into his old life, but has become rebellious due both to the war and to the loss of Geneviève. One day, Guy quits his job after an argument with his boss, and spends a night on the town drinking and with a prostitute named Jenny. When he returns to his apartment, Madeleine tells him tearfully that his great-aunt has died. Eventually, Madeleine helps Guy clean up his life and he eventually gets an education and is able to purchase an Esso gas station. He asks her to marry him, and she agrees happily.

The coda of the film, as it were, is set in December 1963, approximately five years after the preceding events. Guy is now managing the Esso station with his wife Madeleine and their son François. On Christmas Eve, Madeleine and François are going for a walk when a car pulls up to the station. Guy goes out to help when, unsurprisingly, it is Geneviève and her daughter (who is ostensibly Guy's child) Françoise.

They go inside, at first shocked to see each other, and Geneviève explains this is the first time she has returned to Cherbourg since her marriage. After stilted and awkward conversation, during which Geneviève's car is being filled with gas, Geneviève asks Guy if he wants to see their daughter. He tells her that he thinks she'd better go now. After the most banal of goodbyes ('Is everything going okay?' 'Yes, it is') Geneviève drives off as we see Madeleine and François returning and Guy hugging his family.

Technical Details

  • Director: Jacques Demy
  • Music: Michel Legrand
  • Debut: February 19, 1964
  • Format: 35 mm, 1.66:1 aspect ratio, Color
  • Genre: Musical Drama
  • Length: 87 minutes

It is interesting to note that the current version of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg released on DVD is a completely rennovated version of the original. The original rushes of the film were shot on Eastman stock which rapidly faded and became almost unusable. The various copies of the film doing the cinema circuit also gradually lost their quality and it seemed that the vivid colours and fantastic contrast of the original film had been lost, only to be engraved on the memories of those lucky enough to see it in the 1960s. Very fortunately, Demy realised the short shelf-life of the original rushes and made negative black and white copies of the original in the three colour bands. In the 1990s, Demy's wife headed a project to put these three black and white copies back together. The resulting film was an astonishing transformation - once again Demy's vision of a surreally bright Cherbourg was made available for the viewing public. Legrand assisted in the digital remastering of his score and finally produced an extremely high-quality version of the filmscore, considered by many to be a musical masterpiece.



  • Catherine Deneuve: Geneviève Emery
  • Nino Castelnuovo: Guy
  • Anne Vernon: Madame Emery
  • Mireille Perrey: Aunt Élise
  • Marc Michel: Roland Cassard
  • Ellen Farner: Madeleine
  • Jean Champion: Aubin
  • Pierre Caden: Bernard
  • Jean-Pierre Dorat: Jean


One of the film's feature songs, "Recit de Cassard"("Cassard's Story") was converted into an English version called "Watch What Happens" and which was sung by Tony Bennett.

fr:Les Parapluies de Cherbourg sv:Paraplyerna i Cherbourg


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