French director Jacques Demy didn’t just make movies—he created an entire cinematic world. Demy launched his glorious feature filmmaking career in the sixties, a decade of astonishing invention in his national cinema. He stood out from the crowd of his fellow New Wavers, however, by filtering his self-conscious formalism through deeply emotional storytelling. Fate and coincidence, doomed love, and storybook romance surface throughout his films, many of which are further united by the intersecting lives of characters who appear or are referenced across titles. The works collected here—made from the sixties to the eighties and ranging from musical to melodrama to fantasia—are triumphs of visual and sound design, camera work, and music, and they are galvanized by the great stars of French cinema at their centers, including Anouk Aimée, Catherine Deneuve, and Jeanne Moreau.
New 2K digital restorations of all six films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-rays ofLolaandBay of Angelsand 5.1 or 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks on the Blu-rays ofThe Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort, Donkey Skin,andUne chambre en ville
Two documentaries by filmmaker Agnès Varda:The World of Jacques Demy(1995) andThe 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), andLa 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 Cherbourg,”a 2008 documentary
Episode fromBehind the Screen,a 1966 series about the making ofYoung 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 forLola, Bay of Angels, Umbrellas,andUne chambre
PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critics Ginette Vincendeau, Terrence Rafferty, Jim Ridley, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Anne E. Duggan, and Geoff Andrew, and a postscript by Berthomé New covers by Jason Hardy
Jacques Demy’s crystalline debut gave birth to the fictional universe in which so many of his characters would live, play, and love. It’s among his most profoundly felt films, a tale of crisscrossing lives in Nantes (Demy’s hometown) that floats on waves of longing and desire. Heading the film’s ensemble is the enchanting Anouk Aimée as the title character, a cabaret chanteuse who’s awaiting the return of a long-lost lover and unwilling to entertain the adoration of another love-struck soul, the wanderer Roland (Marc Michel). Humane, wistful, and witty,Lolais a testament to the resilience of the heartbroken.
Bay of Angels
This precisely wrought, emotionally penetrating romantic drama from Jacques Demy, set largely in the casinos of Nice, is a visually lovely but darkly realistic investigation into love and obsession. A bottle-blonde Jeanne Moreau is at her blithe best as a gorgeous gambling addict, and Claude Mann is the bank clerk drawn into her risky world. Featuring a mesmerizing score by Michel Legrand,Bay of Angelsis among Demy’s most somber works.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
The angelically beautiful 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, played by Nino Castelnuovo. When the boy is shipped off to fight in Algeria, the two lovers must grow up quickly. Exquisitely designed in a kaleidoscope of colors, and told entirely through lilting songs by the great composer Michel Legrand,The Umbrellas of Cherbourgis one of the most revered and unorthodox movie musicals of all time.
The Young Girls of Rochefort
Jacques Demy followed upThe Umbrellas of Cherbourgwith another musical about missed connections and second chances, this one a more effervescent confection. Twins Delphine and Solange, a dance instructor and a music teacher (played by real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac), long for big-city life; when a fair comes through their quiet port town, so does the possibility of escape. With its jazzy Michel Legrand score, pastel paradise of costumes, and divine supporting cast (George Chakiris, Grover Dale, Danielle Darrieux, Michel Piccoli, and Gene Kelly),The Young Girls of Rochefortis a tribute to Hollywood optimism from sixties French cinema’s preeminent dreamer.
In this lovingly crafted, wildly eccentric adaptation of a classic French fairy tale, Jacques Demy casts Catherine Deneuve as a princess who must go into hiding as a scullery maid in order to fend off an unwanted marriage proposal—from her own father, the king (Jean Marais). A topsy-turvy riches-to-rags fable with songs by Michel Legrand,Donkey Skincreates a tactile fantasy world that’s perched on the border between the earnest and the satiric, and features Delphine Seyrig in a delicious supporting role as a fashionable fairy godmother.
Une chambre en ville
In this musical melodrama set against the backdrop of a workers’ strike in Nantes, Dominique Sanda plays a young woman who wishes to leave her brutish husband (Michel Piccoli) for an earthy steelworker (Richard Berry), though he is involved with another. Unbeknownst to the girl, the object of her affection boards with her no-nonsense baroness mother (Danielle Darrieux). A late-career triumph from Jacques Demy,Une chambre en villereceived nine César Award nominations and features a rich, operatic score by Michel Colombier.