Cherbourg umbrellas

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German title Cherbourg umbrellas
Original title Les Parapluies de Cherbourg
Country of production France , Germany
original language French
Publishing year 1964
length 91 minutes
Age rating FSK 6
Director Jacques Demy
script Jacques Demy
production Likes Bodard
music Michel Legrand
camera Jean Rabier
cut Anne-Marie Cotret
Monique Teisseire

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (French original title: Les Parapluies de Cherbourg ) is a musical film from 1964. Directed by Jacques Demy , who cast the leading roles with Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo ; the music (with the song of the same name; with English lyrics by Norman Gimbel I Will Wait For You ) was written by Michel Legrand . All dialogues in the film are sung as recitative .

The film is the second part of a "Romantic Trilogy" by the director, which began with Lola, the girl from the port in 1961 and ended with The Girls from Rochefort in 1967.


Madame Emery and her daughter Geneviève sell umbrellas in their small shop in the coastal town of Cherbourg in Normandy . Geneviève is in love with Guy, a handsome auto mechanic. Together with the maid Madeleine, a young woman who obviously loves him, he looks after his godmother with great devotion, with whom he lives under one roof. Guy is called up to fight in the Algerian War.

The night before his departure, he and Geneviève sleep together. She becomes pregnant and feels abandoned because he doesn't seem to text her. At the same time, Madame Emery urges her daughter to marry Roland Cassard. He's a man of about thirty, inconspicuously handsome, who is bailing out Madame Emery financially. Roland falls in love with Geneviève and wants to marry her, although her child is from another man. Her wedding in a large cathedral underscores her social and economic advancement in society.

When Guy returns with a leg injury, he learns that Geneviève is now married, has left Cherbourg and that the umbrella shop no longer exists. He tries to go back to his old life but becomes rebellious about the war and 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 shabby harbor bars. He sleeps with a prostitute named Jenny, whose real name is Geneviève, as it soon turns out. When he returns to his apartment, Madeleine tells him in tears that his godmother has died. He notices that she loves him and with her help cleans up his life.

With his aunt's inheritance, he can finance a new American-style gas station. He asks Madeleine to marry him and she accepts, although she wonders if he is doing this out of desperation over Geneviève.

December 1963, about five years after the start of the plot: Guy now runs the gas station and lives with his happy and loving wife Madeleine and his little son François. Madeleine and François go for a walk on Christmas Eve . While they leave Guy alone for a short time, a new Mercedes drives up to the gas station.

The mink-clad driver turns out to be the elegant, visibly rich Geneviève, accompanied by her (and Guys) daughter Françoise, who stays in the car. The two go in and are initially shocked to see each other again. Geneviève explains that this is the first time since their wedding that they are going back to Cherbourg. Her mother, who is still quite young, is dead. Her rich husband and child are the only family members she has left. The two talk while the car is filling up. Geneviève asks Guy if he would like to see his daughter. After a moment's hesitation, he denies, which leads to their final farewell. At the end, Guy greets his wife with a kiss and plays with his young son.


“Jacques Demy condenses the undemanding everyday story into a lyrical chamber play in which all dialogues are sung. Music and melodies, stylized colors, shapes and movements combine to create a highly artificial film that tenderly symbolizes the characters' feelings. "

"[G] erade the mixture of realism and romantic clichés that the film practiced, as well as its tendency towards sentimentality, ultimately made it difficult to tolerate, sweetish kitsch"

"A film song game about a broken childhood sweetheart, which partially belittles the thematic questions raised or covers it up with sentimentality, but from a film music point of view of interesting novelty and formally overall a remarkable achievement."



The film was shot on Eastman negative, which quickly faded and became unusable. The various copies of the film in circulation gradually deteriorated, which meant that The Umbrellas of Cherbourg could never be seen in the rich colors that Jacques Demy had intended. Fortunately, Demy knew the original would fade quickly, so he made black and white copies of the original material using a 3-color process (a process similar to making the older Technicolor process). These black and white prints had a longer lifespan. In the 1990s Demy's wife, film director Agnès Varda , started a project to make a new color copy of the three black and white prints. The resulting film took up Demy's vision of a colorful Cherbourg again. In addition, the composer Michel Legrand assisted with the digital post-processing of his score in order to produce a higher-quality version.


In Brad Anderson's post-apocalyptic horror thriller The Reign of Shadows from 2010, projectionist Paul (played by John Leguizamo) raves about the romantic atmosphere of the film with Catherine Deneuve and praises "the music" and "the colors".

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Release certificate for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , August 2010 (PDF; test number: 34 300 V).
  2. ^ The Cherbourg umbrellas. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  3. ^ Ulrich Gregor, History of the Film from 1960. Bertelsmann, Munich 1978, ISBN 3-570-00816-9 , p. 38.
  4. Critique No. 501/1964.