The Umbrellas of Cherbourg – The Criterion Collection #716 (as part of “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray + DVD Box Set)

August 6, 2014 by  


One of the greatest romantic films and musical films ever created, the Criterion Collection release of Jacques Demy’s masterpiece, “The Umbrellas of Chergbourg” on Blu-ray is a five-star release and is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2014 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg – The Criterion Collection #716 (as part of “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray + DVD Box Set)


DURATION: 92 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 aspect ratio, Color, French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with English Subtitles


RELEASE DATE: July 22, 2014

Written and Directed by Jacques Demy

Produced by Mag Bodard, Gilbert de Goldschmidt, Pierre Lazareff

Music by Michel Legrand

Cinematography by Jean Rabier

Edited by Anne-Marie Cotret, Monique Teisseire

Production Design by Bernard Evein

Costume Design by Jacqueline Moreau


Catherine Deneuve as Genevieve Emery

Nino Castelnuovo as Guy Foucher

Anne Vernon as Madame Emery

Marc Michel as Roland Cassard

Ellen Farner as Madeleine

Mireille Perrey as Tante Elise

Jean Champion as Aubin

Pierre Caden as Bernard

Jean-Pierre Dorat as Jean

An 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 the lilting songs of the great composer Michel Legrand, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of the most revered and unorthodox movie musicals of all time.


Considered as Jacques Demy’s masterpiece, the 1964 musical “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” receives the HD treatment for its 2014 Blu-ray release from the Criterion Collection as part of “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray and DVD box set.

The set will include “Lola” (1961), “Bay of Angels” (1963), “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964), “The Young Girls of Rochefort” (1967), “Donkey Skin” (1970) and “Une Chambre En Ville” (1982).

The winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival and nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Films” in 1965 and four more Academy Awards at the 1965 Academy Awards, “The Umbrella of Cherbourg” received critical acclaim worldwide.

A beloved musical by man, this 2014 Criterion Collection Blu-ray release features the new restoration that was created in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original release which captures Demy’s vision of a vibrant and colorful Cherbourg but also a high quality restoration of the original 4-track stereo sound masters to digital by original composer Michel Legrand.

The third film created by Jacques Demy, he wanted to create a film that would make people cry.  With the film dialogue sung as recitative (conversations are all sung), “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” is broken down into three parts and also features the return of the character Roland Cassard (portrayed by Marc Michel) who starred in Demy’s first feature film “Lola”.

“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” revolves around a passionate couple: Genevieve Emery (portrayed by Catherine Denueve) and Guy Foucher (portrayed by Nino Castelnuovo) and is set in the late ’50s in the coastal town of Cherbourg in Normandy, France.

Genevieve is a 16-year-old daughter of Madame Emery (portrayed by Anne Vernon) who sell umbrellas at their boutique.  Madame Emery is concerned about their financial well-being but most importantly, concerned about her daughter who is dating a young auto mechanic, Guy.

Guy lives at home with his Aunt Elise (portrayed by Mireille Perrey) who is ill and is being take care of by her young caretaker Madeleine (portrayed by Ellen Farner) who has a crush on Guy.

Despite Madam Emery not wanting her daughter to see Guy, both find ways to sneak out and spend time with one another and so deeply in love, they talk about getting married and naming their first child “Francoise”.

But as happy the couple are, things change when Guy is drafted into the military to fight as a soldier for the Algerian War.  Difficult for the couple in love, both pledge their undying love for one another and make love the night before he joins the military.

Fast forward months later and Genevieve is pregnant, she has rarely heard from Guy but with only a few letters that she receives.  Madame Emery tries to sway her pregnant daughter away from Guy and make her think that because he hasn’t written, perhaps he has moved on with his life.

Her mother wants her to forget about Guy and meet a Parisian jeweler named Roland Cassard (portrayed by Marc Michel reprising the same character from Demy’s film “Lola”).  Despite Genevieve being pregnant, Roland does not mind that she is carrying another man’s child and wants to marry her.

As Madame Emery tries to explain to her daughter on how marrying Roland would secure her future, she is now more open to marrying Roland since she has not heard much from Guy and his return from war is unknown.

But will Guy arrive back home to find out that he lost Genevieve? And what will happen to his life without his one true love?


“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio).  It’s important to note that this 2K restoration is the same as was used in Arte Video’s Blu-ray release back in 2013.

The film looks absolutely gorgeous in HD.  Vibrant and features more clarity than the previous DVD version I had seen before, there is also noticeable grain which is fantastic, so no excessive DNR.  No scratches or any warping to the film, no discoloration or anything problematic during my viewing of the film.  “The Umbrella of Cherbourg” looks absolutely amazing in HD!

According to the Criterion Collection, “Approved by Mathieu Demy, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on a Scanity film scanner from the three-strip separation masters and the original negative at DiGiMAGE-CLASSICS in Paris, where the film was also restored.  This 2013 restoration was undertaken by Cine-Tamaris, with the support of the Cannes Film Festival, LVMH/Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, the city of Cherbourg-Octeville, the region of Basse-Normandie, and the Banque Postale.”


As for audio, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” receives a French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.  The soundtrack for this film is the best I have ever heard of this musical with wonderful clarity and depth.  No sign of hiss, crackle or any problematic issues with the audio.

According to the Criterion Collection, “The 5.1 surround soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the film’s 1963 monaural mix and 1992 restoration’s Dolby SR optical negative and digital multitrack tapes.”


“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg – The Criterion Collection #716” comes with the following special features:

  • Once Upon a Time…”The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” – (54:22) A 2008 documentary about “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”.
  • Rodney Hill – (22:41) Film scholar Rodney Hill talks about “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” and how it embodies characteristics of the French New Wave and the “tradition of quality” style of French filmmaking.
  • Cinepanorama– (11:14) A 1964 episode of the French TV show “Cinepanorama” and director Jacques Demy and composer Michel Legrand being interviewed about “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”.
  • Michel Legrand at the National Film Theater – (26:45) Audio excerpt from 1991, Michel Legrand talks to an audience at the National Film Theatre in London about composing music for the films of Jacques Demy.
  • Catherine Denueve at the National Film Theater – (11:03) Audio excerpt from 1983, Catherine Deneuve talks to an audience at the National Film Theatre in London about working with Jacques Demy.
  • Restoration Demonstration – (6:11) Agnes Varda discussing the restoration of “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”.
  • Trailer – (1:56) The theatrical trailer for “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”.

I have watched many fantastic musicals in my lifetime.  And when it comes to musicals and when it comes to romantic films in general, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” is one of the greatest romantic films and one of the great musical films created in all time.

“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” is Jacques Demy’s most noticeable work in his oeuvre but it’s also his masterpiece that anyone who has watched it, the majority will agree about how fantastic this film is.

There was no doubt that Jacques Demy was inspired by “West Side Story” and Gene Kelly films but this is the film he wanted to make.  Colorful, vibrant, a musical with wonderful music but a storyline that would make audiences cry.  Originally, he wanted “Lola” to be a vibrant and colorful musical but it all worked out because the chemistry between Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo was magnificent.

The return of the character Roland Cassard from “Lola” was unexpected for audiences at the time but developed that connection to Demy’s first film and in someways, giving closure to the storyline of “Lola” in regards to Cassard’s character and how he evolved in “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”.

But the overall storyline of the strongest of love or no matter how much people are in love, things always change.  Some for the good and some for the bad but until that love is challenged, how long can one stay in love if separated.

What I love about the film is its structure and how it flows from upbeat but suddenly serious and that is what makes this film so original.  Jacques Demy is able to tell a story that flows perfectly and we see these characters evolve and its final scenes are heart-wrenching but yet you know in your heart that it’s right.

Everything about this film is right.  From its use of color, its use of set design and costume design.  It’s a vibrant film with a wonderful and memorable musical score from Michel Legrand that I absolutely love listening to.

And with the release of “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” on Blu-ray, the restoration done for this film is absolutely amazing as colors pop out better than they have before in previous video formats.  The soundtrack now receiving a 5.1 lossless treatment is equally impressive along with its many special features including the fantastic 2008 documentary “Once Upon a Time…’The Umbrellas of Cherbourg'”.

There is no doubt that “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” is a major highlight for “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray and DVD box set.  The film continues to be a beloved musical loved by many people worldwide, generation after generation and is respectably known as Jacques Demy’s greatest masterpiece.

One of the greatest romantic films and musical films ever created, the Criterion Collection release of Jacques Demy’s masterpiece, “The Umbrellas of Chergbourg” on Blu-ray is a five-star release and is highly recommended!

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