On World Music Day, a salute to Jacques Demy, who made two of the greatest musicals outside the Hollywood system

Posted on June 20, 2019

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Read the full article on Firstpost, here: https://www.firstpost.com/entertainment/on-world-music-day-a-salute-to-jacques-demy-who-made-two-of-the-greatest-musicals-outside-hollywood-6852881.html

In 1964, the French filmmaker Jacques Demy (aka Agnès Varda’s husband) made one of the most original musicals of all time: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. The film was top-lined by Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo, who — along with the other characters — sang not just the songs but also the dialogues. The first scene after the opening credits is set in a garage. A customer walks up to a mechanic, Guy Foucher (Castelnuovo), who is poking around under the hood of a car. The customer asks, “Is it finished?” Foucher looks up and replies, “The engine still knocks when it’s cold, but that’s normal.” The satisfied customer gets into the car and drives off. Foucher’s manager calls out, “Foucher! Can you stay an extra hour?” Foucher replies, “Tonight, it’s a problem. But I think Pierre is free.” He yells to Pierre, “Can you stay tonight?” These are not lyrics. These are lines. This is a conversation. And it’s all sung.

In a television interview featured in the Criterion Collection DVD of Cherbourg, Demy was asked about deliberately turning his back on “realism” when directors young and old were striving for it. “People don’t sing when asking for the salt in a restaurant or when asking someone to close the door,” the interviewer said. “Why ask people to sing when they have no reason to?” It’s an odd question, because if every artist set out to simply portray reality, or the world as we see and know it, Cubist art and the opera and sci-fi cinema wouldn’t exist. But Demy takes the question seriously. He says singing is a natural mode of expression. The interviewer persists. “Do you see people singing ‘I’d like apple pie!’ in a restaurant?” Demy smiles and says, “Why not! It would make life more pleasant.”

Continued at the link above.

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