The Essential Jacques Demy [Criterion Collection] [13 Discs] [Blu-ray/DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Two documentaries by filmmaker Agnès Varda: The World of Jacques Demy (1995) and The Young Girls Turn 25 (1993)
  • Four short films by director Jacques Demy: Les horizons morts (1951), Le sabotier du Val de Loire (1956), Ars (1959), and La Luxure (1962)
  • Jacques Demy, A to Z, a new visual essay by critic James Quandt
  • Archival interviews with Demy, composer Michel Legrand, and actors Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve, Jean Marais, and Jacques Perrin
  • Once Upon a Time..."The Umbrellas of Cherborg," a 2008 documentary
  • Episode from Behind the Screen, a 1966 series about the making of Young Girls
  • "Donkey Skin" Illustrated, a 2008 program on the many versions of Charles Perrault's fairy tale
  • "Donkey Skin" and the Thinkers, a 2008 program featuring critic Camille Tabouley
  • New conversation between Demy biographer Jean-Pierre Berthomé and costume designer Jacqueline Moreau
  • New interviews with journalist Marie Colmant and film scholar Rodney Hill
  • Archival audio Q&A with Demy
  • Archival audio interviews with Legrand and Deneuve
  • Interview with actor Anouk Aimée from 2012, conducted by Varda
  • Interview with Varda from 2012 on the origin of Lola's song
  • Restoration demonstrations for Lola, Bay of Angels, Umbrellas, and Une chambre

Synopsis

Donkey Skin
Originally titled Peau D'Ane, Jacques Demy's Dos Cruces en Danger Pass is better known by its English-language title Donkey Skin. Based on a fairy tale by Charles Perrault (of Cinderella fame), the bizarre story concerns the king (Jean Marais) of a strange, enchanted land. Catherine Deneuve plays the dual role of the king's wife and daughter. When the wife dies, she makes the king promise that he'll never marry anyone less beautiful than she; thus, he is compelled to wed his own daughter! The fairy godmother (Delphine Seyrig) tries to save the girl from this incestuous fate by telling her to make impossible demands for her wedding gifts. One such demand is for the skin of a magic donkey which deposits valuable jewels in its compost heaps. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Young Girls of Rochefort
Jacques Demy directed this frothy tribute to the Hollywood musicals of the 1940s, a follow-up to his earlier success The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964). Twin sisters Delphine and Solange (played by real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorleac) live in the small coastal town of Rochefort, where they run a school teaching dancing and music. Both feel frustrated in Rochefort, and they dream of travelling to Paris, where they believe romance and opportunity awaits them. Meanwhile, their single mother, Yvonne (Danielle Darrieux), who runs a cafe in town, pines for her lost love, Simon (Michel Piccoli). One day, one of Yvonne's regular customers, a sailor with an artistic bent named Maxence (Jacques Perrin), shows her a painting of the imaginary girl of his dreams, and she looks just like Delphine, whom he's never met. Meanwhile, Simon has returned to Rochefort, bringing with him a close friend, American pianist Andy Miller (Gene Kelly); Simon has made friends with Solange and introduces her to Andy, who immediately falls in love with her. Sadly, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort was Françoise Dorleac's last film; she died in an auto accident shortly after completing the picture. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Lola
Jacques Demy's auspicious debut -- "a musical without music" set in the port city of Nantes -- stars Anouk Aimée as the title character, a cabaret singer awaiting the return of Michel (Jacques Hardin), her long-absent lover and the father of her child. Michel went to America seven years ago and promised to return when he became rich. In Michel's absence, Lola is being courted by her childhood friend Roland (Marc Michel) and American sailor Frankie (Allan Scott). At some point, it seems that Lola will settle down with one of them, but her heart still belongs to Michel. The film is dedicated to Max Ophüls and the film title obviously alludes to Ophüls' Lola Montes as well as to the heroine of Josef Von Sternberg's The Blue Angel. Marc Michel makes a reference to his unrequited love towards Lola when he reappears in Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964). ~ Yuri German, Rovi

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Jacques Demy's 1964 masterpiece is a pop-art opera, or, to borrow the director's own description, a film in song. This simple romantic tragedy begins in 1957. Guy Foucher (Nino Castelnuovo), a 20-year-old French auto mechanic, has fallen in love with 17-year-old Geneviève Emery (a luminous Catherine Deneuve), an employee in her widowed mother's chic but financially embattled umbrella shop. On the evening before Guy is to leave for a two-year tour of combat in Algeria, he and Geneviève make love. She becomes pregnant and must choose between waiting for Guy's return or accepting an offer of marriage from a wealthy diamond merchant (Marc Michel, reprising his role from Demy's masterful debut, Lola). A completely sung movie, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is closest in form to a cinematic opera. Composer Michel Legrand composed the score, modeling it around the patterns of everyday conversation. Umbrellas was re-released in 1997. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi

Bay of Angels
Bay of the Angels (La Baie des anges) stars Jeanne Moreau as a middle-aged Parisian gambling addict who leaves her husband and children and heads for the roulette tables of Nice. There she meets young and handsome Claude Mann--a meeting which coincides with Moreau's first winning streak. She latches onto Mann in the belief that he's a good luck charm, and remains with him even when she starts losing heavily. Mann, emotionally drained, walks out of the relationship. The film ends with Mann entreating Moreau to return with him to the bourgeois existence that she'd escaped in the first scene. Bay of the Angels was directed by Jacques Demy, just before he achieved international fame with his musical films Young Girls of Rochefort and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Une Chambre En Ville
In the style of an operetta, like director Jacques Demy's more famous film the Umbrellas of Cherbourg, this melodramatic story is set in Nantes in 1955 and centers around the tragedies of three or four intertwined lives. First, there is the young steel worker (Richard Berry) who is out on strike and has rented a room from an upper-class widow (Danielle Darrieux), a woman in sympathy with the strikers. The blue-collar worker has a girlfriend he finds less and less interesting just as she is more and more pregnant, and their relationship seems fated to end, one way or another. Then there is Edith (Dominique Sanda), the daughter of the widow, married to a wealthy, impotent, skinflint of a merchant caught up in his own neuroses, and, whether for that reason or several others, Edith is a part-time hooker. One evening she shows up in the worker's rented room, wearing a fur coat and nothing else -- and the two share a night of passion. Now mother, daughter, the worker, and the daughter's husband have formed a very unstable chain of relationships, due to snap because at least one link is exceedingly weak. Enhanced by excellent choreography, this film still did poorly at the box office when it was first released. In order to save it and encourage audiences to see it for its own merits, 76 French critics took out an ad in Le Monde to promote the film, and some critics said that if this movie failed, so would all of French cinema. Perhaps it is not surprising then that Chambre En Ville won the French Critics' Prix Méliès in 1982. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi


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