Les parapluies de Cherbourg (1964)
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Completely original and should have won the Oscar.
I remember as a teenager being deeply moved by it when it first came out; now many years later it again struck me as fresh.
It wears its formality lightly: even though every word is sung, the dialogue is close to natural, if slower than normal. Deep, rich, saturated (Eastman)color complements the depth of emotion. In the background is grand opera: Bizet's Carmen's tragic Romeo-and-Juliet theme in counterpoint.
Strange at first but when thought of as the most ingenious opera made, it takes on a whole life of its own. The words are more meaningful, the actions more deliberate and the romance more touching. Fabulous!
Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, the French musical now forever linked to La-La Land as inspiration, has some memorable melodies, even if it often avoids the easy rhyme, and its wall-to-wall singing can come off as silly in the more mundane moments (though they do wring some humor out of it, that poor mailman). What most people will pick up on is the look of the film, which is so vibrantly colorful and stylized that it's the proverbial feast for the eyes. More than that, the colors mean something. The four lovers in this unusually-structured romance are either in stark contrast - when they're love is free to manifest itself - or melt into the background - when something (doubt, others, circumstance) creates an obstacle - or else go to earthen brown - when the person isn't an object of affection - with transitions between them possible at crisis moments. The vivacious mother, for her part, is more ambivalent, surrounded by stripes that both match and contrast her colors. I think a whole essay could be written just on the use of color, which isn't to say I didn't like the music. As for the story, it moves from teenage naiveté towards a pragmatic, adult finale that's at once bittersweet, glorious and true to life.
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In 17 official lists
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This movie ranks #21 in IMDb's Musical Top 50
This movie ranks #26 in Time Out's The 100 Best Romantic Films
This movie ranks #30 in Cannes Film Festival - Palme d'Or
This movie ranks #40 in The Times's 100 Best French Films
This movie ranks #52 in Academy Award - Best International Feature Film Nominees
This movie ranks #53 in Time Out's The 100 Best French Films
This movie ranks #72 in BFI's 100 Film Musicals
This movie ranks #168 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #170 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #236 in Emma Beare's 501 Must-See Movies
This movie ranks #310 in BFI's 360 Classic Feature Films Project
This movie ranks #417 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #655 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?
This movie ranks #677 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #845 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #934 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
This movie ranks #967 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life