Demy beats to his own drum

Sasha Kaiser, Staff Writer

The French new wave is known for its self-awareness, long takes, fragmented editing, and all-around visually pleasing films. Many big-name directors emerged during this time, names such as Godard and Rohmer, all of whom are talented, but one of the most impactful directors (and a personal favorite of mine) would be the amazing Jacques Demy. Known for his beautiful color schemes, and his complex female characters, he followed the beat of his own drum and made some of the most beautiful, yet sometimes odd, movies.

Perhaps one of his most well-known works is The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a musical romance, starring Catherine Deneuve. The movie follows a young girl named Genevieve who works at a small boutique that sells umbrellas; she falls for a mechanic named Guy, but their romance is interrupted when Guy is drafted for the war, soon after Geneva realizes she’s pregnant and must decide if she’ll wait for Guy to return or marry a wealthy merchant. This film manages to win the hearts of those who aren’t even particularly interested in musicals. It’s a film about the tragedy of love, reminiscent of old Hollywood and wonderfully bright and colorful. Damien Chazelle, director of the award-winning movie, La La Land, cites this movie as one of his main influences.

Not too long after this, Demy released The Young Girls of Rochefort, a French musical and comedy film, released in 1967. Starring big names such as Catherine Deneuve and Gene Kelly, the movie follows two sisters who want to find love and want to leave their little seaside town, accompanied slightly by a small ax murderer subplot, his follow-up film for sure solidified him as a director to watch out for. This was another romantic musical with strong female leads that seems to be inspired by old Hollywood, and as the French new wave continued, directors became more experimental and more political, so Demy’s choice to follow the lines of old Hollywood films definitely makes him stand out.

Although Demy’s films are vibrant and fantastical, it would be a lie to say they have no substance. Although they may appear all dreamy on the outside, you can sometimes find an underlying theme of sadness. We are drawn in by the bright colors and beautiful songs, but when we continue to watch and get to peek under the surface, we get hit with the reminder of the reality, the reality that in the end, most people won’t get a fairytale ending that they desire.

He continued to come out with films like Donkey Skin and Lola until sadly, in October of 1990, Demy passed away at only 59 years old. Originally the public was told that he died of cancer, but in 2008 his wife, fellow director Agnes Varda, confirmed he died from AIDs-related complications. Although he’s gone, the legacy he left still lives on. He will always be remembered as one of the most brilliant French directors of all time.

Even if you aren’t a fan of musicals, Demy’s

Sasha Kaiser

films will still find a way to pull you in and capture you in his own little world. This being said, I give him, and his films that I’ve seen, a solid 5 paws out of 5.