The Young Girls of Rochefort – The Criterion Collection #717 (as part of “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray + DVD Box Set)
August 9, 2014 by Dennis Amith
“The Young Girls of Rochefort” is a vibrant and energetic musical from Jacques Demy. Much more energy, singing and dancing and upbeat compared to “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, for those who love American musicals will surely be entertained by the beautiful visuals, music and choreography of “The Young Girls of Rochefort”. Recommended!
Image courtesy of © 2014 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: The Young Girls of Rochefort – The Criterion Collection #717 (as part of “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray + DVD Box Set)
YEAR OF FILM: 1967
DURATION: 126 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:35:1 aspect ratio, Color, French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with English Subtitles
COMPANY: THE CRITERION COLLECTION
RELEASE DATE: July 22, 2014
Written and Directed by Jacques Demy
Produced by Mag Bodard, Gilbert de Goldschmidt
Music by Michel Legrand
Cinematography by Ghislain Cloquet
Edited by Jean Hamon
Production Design by Bernard Evein
Set Decoration by Louis Seuret
Costume Design by Marie-Claude Fouquet Jacqueline Moreau
Catherine Deneuve as Delphine Garnier
George Chakiris as Etienne
Francoise Dorleac as Solange Garnier
Jacques Perrin as Maxence
Michel Piccoli as Simon Dame
Jacques Riberolles as Guillaume Lancien
Grover Dale as Bill
Genevieve Thenier as Josette
Henri Cremieux as Subtil Dutrouz
Pamela Hart as Judith
Leslie North as Esther
Patrick Jeantet as Boubou Garnier
Gene Kelly as Andy Miller
Danielle Darrieux as Yvonne Garnier
Rene Pascal as Pepe
Jacques Demy followed up The Umbrellas of Cherbourg with 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 Rochefort is a tribute to Hollywood optimism from sixties French cinema’s preeminent dreamer.
With the success of his musical “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, Jacques Demy wanted to go much larger, grander and create a French musical like what Hollywood has produced with music and choreography and most importantly, bringing one of his favorite American musical talents for his latest film, Gene Kelly.
Collaborating with composer Michel Legrand, “The Young Girls of Rochefort” would reunite Jacques Demy with Catherine Deneuve, her sister Francoise Dorleac, Jacques Perrin, Michel Piccoli, Danielle Darrieux, George Chakiris and Grover Dale.
And the film which is nearing its 50th anniversary will be included in the Criterion Collection’s “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray and DVD box set which 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).
Another box office success for Jacques Demy, the film is set in the seaside town of Rochefort which will be celebrating a fair in the town square area.
Twin sisters Delphine (portrayed by Catherine Deneuve) is a ballet teacher who is dating an egotistical gallery owner named Guillaume (portrayed by Jacques Riberolles), while her sister Solange (portrayed by Francoise Dorleac) have dreamed of a better life outside of Rochefort and both hope they can find their ideal love.
The two end up meeting two carnival employees (carnies), Etienne (performed by George Chakiris) and Bill (portrayed by Grover Dale) who are interested in finding women and have their eyes trained on the twin sisters.
Meanwhile, their mother Yvonne (portrayed by Danielle Darrieux) runs a cafe that is often frequented by Etienne and Bill but also an often-AWOL sailor named Maxence (portrayed by Jacques Perrin), a man who rather pursue poetry and painting but also looking for his ideal love.
As Yvonne likes to tell stories of her fiance that left her ten years ago due to being too embarrassed about his last name “Dame”, she is unaware that he, Simon Dame (portrayed by Michel Piccoli) has opened a music store in town and that he is working with Simon, who is awaiting for his successful music industry colleague from America, Andy Miller (portrayed by Gene Kelly) to arrive in town.
Will each of these characters meet their ideal love?
“The Young Girls of Rochefort” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio).
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 Young Girls of Rochefort” looks absolutely amazing in HD!
According to the Criterion Collection, “Approved by Agnes Varda, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the 35 mm original camera negative at DiGiMAGE CLASSICS in Paris, where the film was also restored. This 2011 restoration was undertaken by Cine-Tamaris and BNP Paribas with the participation of the Fonds d’Action Sacem and the financial support of the region of Poitou-Charentes and the city of Rochefort.”
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for audio, “The Young Girls of Rochefort” 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 a six-track sound mix created from the original 70 mm release.”
“The Young Girls of Rochefort – The Criterion Collection #717” comes with the following special features:
- Cinema – (11:01) A 1966 episode of the French TV program “Cinema” featuring director Jacques Demy and composer Michel Legrand.
- Jean-Pierre Berthome and Jacqueline Moreau – (26:01) Film scholar Jean-Pierre Berthome talks to costume designer Jacqueline Moreau, the wife of production designer Bernard Evein, about her and her husband’s collaboration with Jacques Demy.
- Behind the Screen– (34:59) A 1966 documentary by filmmaker Andre Delvaux about the production of “The Young Girls of Rochefort” for the Belgian television program “Behind the Scenes”. Episode two is presented and it features Bernard Evein discussing the designs of the film.
- The Young Girls Turn 25 – (1:06:51) A 1993 documentary on the making of “The Young Girls of Rochefort” as filmmaker and Demy’s wife Agnes Varda returned to the town of Rochefort for the film’s 25th anniversary and interviews the talent and townspeople about the film.
- Trailer – (1:47) The theatrical trailer for “The Young Girls of Rochefort”.
After creating his musical masterpiece, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, to do something differently for his next musical, for Jacques Demy, it was to go bigger and showcase a much grander musical utilizing gorgeous colors that would pop on the big screen, choreography and dancing that would rival the large American musicals and also songs from Michel Legrand that would stay in one’s mind after viewing.
From featuring the popular actress Catherine Deneuve and her sister Francoise Dorleac and a slew of other well-known French talent, in order to achieve the great musical of France, Jacques Demy knew that to bridge France and the USA, he would have to bring one of his favorite performers to appear in his movie.
And fortunately, because of Gene Kelly’s love of France, Gene Kelly agreed to appear in “The Young Girls of Rochefort”.
While the story is about everyone wanting to find their ideal love and similar to “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” in which the songs act like conversation with another character, “The Young Girls of Rochefort” is definitely much grander in spectacle, thanks to its many musical numbers and exciting choreography from its cast and extras.
But while an enjoyable film, what made “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” so captivating was its storyline of love lost and the drama that grew as the movie continued. With “The Young Girls of Rochefort”, there really is no major dramatic element but many characters telling stories. And when they are not telling stories, they are singing and dancing.
While not as great as “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, “The Young Girls of Rochefort” is a different kind of musical that focuses on the beauty of Rochefort, the use of strong colors, music and choreography. And this should entertain musical fans, especially with Gene Kelly starring in the film and hearing him sing in French and lending a credibility of having a top American musical star in the musical.
As for the Blu-ray release, “The Young Girls of Rochefort” looks fantastic in HD thanks to its colorful presentation, may it be window trimmings, costume design but most careful lighting and cinematography but the film looks incredible on Blu-ray. The lossless audio sounds absolutely magnificent as Criterion Collection provides us with a crystal clear musical soundtrack in 5.1 DTS-HD MA. And you also have a few special features which include two documentaries about the film.
Overall, “The Young Girls of Rochefort” is a vibrant and energetic musical from Jacques Demy. Much more energy, singing and dancing and upbeat compared to “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, for those who love American musicals will surely be entertained by the beautiful visuals, music and choreography of “The Young Girls of Rochefort”.
Once again, another worthy addition to the Criterion Collection’s “The Essential Jacques Demy”! Recommended!
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