The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

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The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (French: Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) is a 1964 musical film. It was directed by Jacques Demy, and stars Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo. The music was written by Michel Legrand. The film dialogue is all sung as recitative, even the most casual conversation.

Umbrellas is the middle film in an informal "romantic trilogy" of Demy films that share some of the same actors, characters and overall look; it comes after Lola (1961) and before The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967).[1]

Contents

Plot

Madame Emery and her 17-year-old daughter Geneviève (Deneuve) sell umbrellas at their tiny boutique in the coastal town of Cherbourg in Normandy, France. Geneviève is in love with 20-year-old Guy (Castelnuovo), a handsome, young auto mechanic who lives with and cares for his sickly aunt, godmother Elise, and her quiet, dedicated, young care-giver, Madeleine (Ellen Farner), who clearly loves Guy. Subsequently, Guy is drafted, and must leave for a two-year tour of duty in the Algerian War. The night before he leaves, he and Geneviève make love and she becomes pregnant. After he leaves, though, she feels abandoned, as he does not write very frequently. At her mother's insistence, she marries thirty-ish Roland Cassard (Marc Michel), a quiet, handsome Parisian jeweler who falls in love with Geneviève and is willing to wed her though she is carrying another man's child. (Cassard had previously wooed the title character in Lola, only to be rejected once the father of her child returned—he relates an edited version of this story to Madame Emery with ill-concealed bitterness). The society wedding in a great cathedral shows Geneviève's upward social and economic mobility, but she does not seem at all happy with her situation; she clearly[citation needed] feels trapped.

When Guy returns from the war with a leg injury, he learns that Geneviève has married and left Cherbourg, and that the umbrella store has been closed. He attempts to ease back into his previous life, but becomes 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 and a day drinking excessively in seedy port bars. He then has a tryst with a seedy prostitute named Jenny, whose real name turns out to be also Geneviève. When he returns to his apartment, Madeleine tells him tearfully that his godmother has died. He sees that Madeleine loves him, and cleans up his life with her encouragement. With an inheritance from his aunt, he is able to finance a new "American-style" Esso gas station. He asks Madeleine to marry him, and she accepts, though she wonders if he is asking her from despair at Geneviève's actions.

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