The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Directed by Jacques Demy

Catherine Deneuve was launched to stardom by this dazzling musical heart-tugger from Jacques Demy. She plays an umbrella-shop owner’s delicate daughter, glowing with first love for a handsome garage mechanic. When the boy is shipped off to fight in Algeria, the two lovers must grow up quickly. Exquisitely designed in a kaleidoscope of colours, and told entirely through lilting songs by the great composer Michel Legrand, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of the most revered and unorthodox movie musicals of all time. 4K restoration.

This film is one of our Staff Picks! Read on to find out what HOME’s very own have to say…

Musicals! HOME Staff Pick: Christine Kings, Management Accountant

“Accountants aren’t usually asked to write film reviews but, here at HOME, things are done a little differently — which is one of the reasons I enjoy working here. But first, a confession: I don’t like musicals. I find them too sugary and contrived. I do, however, love music, vintage couture and the visual feast that is cinema.

I watched The Umbrellas of Cherbourg on a wet and miserable Manchester afternoon, and found myself in another world of luscious colour, sumptuous 1960’s French interiors and clothes and a heartbreakingly beautiful musical score by Michel Legrand. In short, a pure hit of pleasure.

Unexpectedly, all the words were sung, none spoken. Neither was I expecting to be so moved by the story line of separation and loss, nor the life lesson writ large on the screen in such a powerful way. This was a musical that set out to connect with the audience’s emotions and life experiences, rather than merely entertain. It succeeded.”

Musicals! HOME Staff Pick: Otto Smart, Usher (Front of House team)

“Unlike the classic Hollywood musical, Jacques Demy and Michel Legrand’s irresistibly charming, stylish, colourful, richly melodic and very French masterpiece refuses to follow any prescriptive blueprint. Instead, it sets its own playful and inventive rules, resulting in a perfectly realised, truly original and captivating one-off. What also sets it apart from the Hollywood model is that every single word — even the most mundane phrase — is sung, adding a heightened quality of romance and Technicolor sparkle to the grimy, urban setting. Central to the film’s charm and appeal however, is its scene-stealing, ice-cool star Catherine Deneuve in one of her earliest and most iconic roles.”

Musicals! HOME Staff Pick: Jonathan Thorley, Volunteer

“Strongly echoed in the recent musical phenomenon La La Land, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is Jacques Demy’s masterpiece. From the legendary painted sets and innovative cinematography to the strikingly original editing, it sits amongst the French New Wave’s very best. Cherbourg is quite simply unmissable for fans of classic film. Demy manages to depict a story of young love so engaging and so romantic that we feel the melancholy of its poignant truth long after we have watched it. The beautifully haunting melody of composer Michel Legrand’s I Will Wait for You will melt even the coldest of hearts. The film is most romantic when it is both fantastical and bleak, a romance the like of which cinema has rarely seen since.”

Screening as part of BFI Musicals! The Greatest Show on Screen, a UK-wide film season supported by National Lottery, BFI Film Audience Network and ICO. #bfimusicals   

91 minutes

Translated title:
Les parapluies de Cherbourg

Partial English

Country of origin:
France and West Germany

Year of production: