Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Like A Woman is a Woman, Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg also deals with the subject of babies in an adapted musical format. This time, the baby is the illegitimate child of Geneviève and Guy, two young lovers torn apart by the Algerian War. Unlike A Woman is a Woman, this film is entirely sung like an opera. However, at certain moments of the film, such as Geneviève and her mother discussing their financial situation, the music does not coincide with the emotion.

As I have stated before, I love musicals. One reason I love them is the fantasy of romance that I know does not exist in real life but cannot help wishing that it could. One way musicals conveys that fantasy is the lovers’ duet where they declare the eternal love for each other. However, I found the lovers’ duet in this film to be overly cloying with the overabundance of “Je t’aime” and “Je meurs”/”Je mourrai” (I forgot which tense she sang “I die” she used) and I thought I had a high tolerance for dramatic expressions of love through song since my favorite lovers’ duets range from “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” from Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, “All I Ask of You” from Phantom of the Opera, and “Last Night of the World” from Miss Saigon. Even if I can excuse it as an expression of young love where those emotions are extremely heightened, I was annoyed by it due to the high pitch. I guess I just predicted that they will see each other again and that they will be happily reunited. War cannot stop the path of true love. Nor could Geneviève’s mother no matter if she is dressed in a black dress with a pink shawl while Roland dressed in black and Geneviève dressed in pink to pointedly hint that those two belong together in musical love harmony.

Of course I guessed wrong as they do not end up together. Yet they seem happy with the life they have without each other. Usually when the couple does not end up together, someone ends up miserable pining away as is the case in Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg shows that love and life go on whatever tune you choose to sing.

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