Several months ago, I stumbled upon the movie poster for Roman Polanski's Replusion, starring the stunning Catherine Deneuve. I wanted to watch it in honor of Halloween because I read that it is a super scary thriller... but didn't get around to it til AFTER Halloween. But I'm so glad I did! (you can instantly stream it on Amazon if you're interested) It was insanely awesome (and awesomely insane) - but more on that later.
After I saw it, I do what I often do after seeing a show or movie I love... I start getting all obsessive on google, looking up background info and the actors/actresses on IMDB. So of course, I went all crazy for Catherine Deneuve. I originally only knew her from Dancer in the Dark (which is UH-MA-ZING) - you know, that really depressing movie costarring Bjork directed by Lars von Trier? (well, I guess most of his movies are amazing yet depressing). But I hadn't seen her in much, probably due to the fact that most of her movies are in French... since she's, you guessed it... French! I'm all for a subtitled movie, but most of her French films I've found aren't too well-known here in the States, in my experience at least.
Anyway, on my google travels, I read about her first hit-movie, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg which is in French as well (was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film) and was filmed in the most unique way! Every line is sung. It's not a musical, just regular lines are sung instead of spoken. That intrigued me at first, but then I saw all of these gorgeous stills from the movie with these beautiful saturated colors, and sixties styles and lush patterns. To die for. Not to mention, Catherine is quite the exquisite beauty - at only 19 or 20 years old! Here's a little blurb about the movie:
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.
I tried to track down the movie to watch, but it's been quite the challenge! I really only want to watch the restored version, and that one goes for over a hundred bucks on ebay or amazon. And the cheaper DVDs are "imports" and I'm not so sure they are the restored version, or either they don't work with DVD players in the States. Oh, I wish I could take a trip to France just to see all of these great-looking Catherine Deneuve films!
It's a pretty interesting story how they were able to restore the movie to allow all of those original colors to shine again (from Wikipedia):
The version released in 2004 on DVD by Koch-Lorber Films is a completely restored version of the original. The film was originally shot on Eastman negative stock which rapidly faded and became almost unusable. In addition, the various copies of the film used in the cinema circuit also gradually lost their quality, which meant that Umbrellas could never be seen with the rich colours that director Demy had originally intended.
Knowing that the Eastman stock would fade over time, Demy fortunately, had the three main yellow, cyan and magenta color separation masters made on black and white negative films that couldn't fade (a process similar to the creation of the older Technicolor process).
These black-and-white prints had greater longevity and in the 1990s, Demy's wife, film director Agnès Varda, headed a project to create a new colour negative from the three black and white separations from which newly restored full-color prints could then be made. The resulting film recaptured Demy's vision of a fantastically colourful Cherbourg.
So, I'm dying to see that restored version! Another Deneuve movie I want to check out is Belle de Jour. What I like about her is that she didn't pigeon hole herself into a certain kind of role - she was (and is) all over the place with the kinds of roles she takes.
Repulsion was obviously quite a change from her previous Umbrellas.
I won't say too much about this movie because it's a must-see, but if you thought Rosemary's Baby is Polanski classic, you must, must see Repulsion. It blew me away on so many levels. And it will stick with you for a while! The best psychological thriller I've ever seen. I will definitely be making this a must-view-on-Halloween tradition. How on Earth did this movie escape my knowledge?! What a great find.
Do you have any favorite Catherine Deneuve movies?