Posted by: philosopherouge | November 16, 2007

Les demoiselles de Rochefort (1967)

 

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Films don’t get much better than Les demoiselles de Rochefort, a joyous, colourful and surreal musical about love. In Demys’ world, love depends on chance, and in such a place love at first sight, ideal women and unlikely reunions can exist. This is the third of his films I’ve seen, and while I enjoy Les Parapluies de Cherbourg and Peau D’Ane, this is by far my favourite and in the running for my all time favourite musical. Few films strike me as being so totally in love with life as this, and even in the ironic moments of tragedy (the slasher/murderor songs) there is a bounce in the characters steps as they focus on the romance, and the memories of the parties involved. There is nary a sense of bitterness involved (except perhaps the artist ex-boyfriend, but even his threats are rather empty), and instead of pursuing threads of unhappiness and feelings of jealousy or injustice, the focus is on the emotions that make life worth living.

While so much of this film is an obvious tribute to the hey day of the Hollywood musical, even down to casting Gene Kelly as one of the lovers, the film doesn’t feel derivative for a single moment. When Solange and Delphine are dancing a number that’s an obvious tribute to Hawks’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, it’s a positively invigorating take on something so familiar. I love how it’s ironic, but still undeniably in love with the original material. While the opening song in Blondes is (although somewhat in a tongue and cheek manner) about finding millionaires, in Rochefort the song is about love in it’s purest form as they describe it as being similar to the wind and other poetic notions. Back to Gene Kelly, while he was beginning to look a little old, there is no denying he was still on top of his game. He choreographed his own sequences, and gives every moment his all. I love being reminded why he is one of my favourite Hollywood musical staple.

I’m almost at a loss of what more I can say, the performances all around are wonderful, and I haven’t seen a film look this good in a long time. The pastel landscape and clothes adds to the overall atmosphere to the film. It actually “looks” happy, a distinction that’s hard to achieve without being outright cheese-tstic. The only other film that strikes me as channeling this particular emotion so well in it’s visuals is Amelie, but even there it’s a bit overbearing compared to the simplicity exihibited in the visual style of this film.

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Responses

  1. What a terrific movie this is…I just saw it for the first time a few months back as well and also consider it one of my favourite musicals ever. Even if only for the twin sisters song…

    And Catherine Deneuve is awesome.

  2. Happy you share my feelings, it’s an absolutely delightful film that I can’t imagine anyone outright disliking.

    Deneuve is awesome, what a presence!

  3. If it counts for anything, I outright dislike this film.
    But that doesn’t matter.

    Email me, Justine. I will do all I can to get some films from you whenever you get the dough (even if it takes years). 😡

  4. There is nothing that anyone on the planet can say which will convince me that this film is not one of most beautiful things in all of creation. It may not be perfect, but I just love it. It may not be Demy’s best film, but it’s my favorite. I’m always happy to learn that it has another admirer.

    I highly recommend Demy’s first film Lola, starring Anouk Aimée, which is lovely as well.

  5. Mango, Mango, Mango! MANGO! Sometimes I think you dislike everything and it angers me. Then I forgive you, but only then.

    Will you bribe me? BRIBE! I want bribe….

    Mr. Peel: Happy you enjoy it so much, it certainly is one of those rare films that truly exemplify positive energy at it’s purest. I’ll have to see Lola, because everyone has nothing but good things to say about it.

  6. Obviously I hate these films just to spite you. Don’t you get that I don’t want you to forgive me.

    And a bribe… hmm. How ’bout dinner at my place?

  7. You forgot the wink. The sexy, not-sure-if-I’m-joking wink, but probably aren’t wink. You know the one.

    Obviously yes. See anything good lately Mango! I want to be contrarian and agree with you.

  8. Why would I ruin the sincerety of my proposal with a wink? 😉 Wear orange.

    Aside from my rewatch of Intimate Lighting, I think the best thing I’ve watched recently is Borderline (1930). You’d better call them sucky for your own good. 👿

  9. I wear orange all the time. Pshhh.

    I haven’t seen them 😦 So I can’t even commit to loving them! My plan has been foiled by your obscurity.


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