JACQUES DEMY (French: ; 5 June 1931 – 27 October 1990) was a
French director, lyricist, and screenwriter. He appeared in the wake
French New Wave alongside contemporaries like Jean-Luc Godard
* 1 Career * 2 Personal life * 3 Select filmography * 4 References * 5 External links
After working with the animator
Paul Grimault and the filmmaker
Georges Rouquier , Demy directed his first feature film, Lola , in
La Baie des Anges (The Bay of Angels, 1963), starring Jeanne Moreau at the height of her fame, took the theme of fate further, with its story of love at the roulette tables.
Demy is perhaps best known for his original musical, Les Parapluies
de Cherbourg (
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Demy's subsequent films never quite captured audience and critical
acclaim the way that Les Parapluies had, although he continued to make
ambitious and original dramas and musicals. Les Demoiselles de
Rochefort (1967), another whimsical-yet-melancholic musical, features
Deneuve and her real-life sister
Françoise Dorléac as sisters living
in the seaside town of Rochefort , daughters of
Danielle Darrieux . It
has stunning color photography in widescreen
In 1968, after Columbia Pictures gave Demy a lucrative offer to shoot his first film in America, Demy and his wife, the film director Agnes Varda , moved to Los Angeles for a brief spell. Demy's end product was a naturalistic drama: 1969's Model Shop . Lola (Anouk Aimée) reappears, her dreams shattered, her life having taken a turn for the worse. Abandoned by her husband Michel for a female gambler named Jackie Demaistre (Jeanne Moreau's character from Bay of Angels), Lola is scrounging to make enough money to return to France and her child, by working as a nudie model in a backdoor model-shop on the Sunset Strip . She runs into an aimless young architect Gary Lockwood , who navigates the streets of Los Angeles; like Lola, he is looking for love and meaning in life. Model Shop is a time capsule of late 1960s Los Angeles, and documents the death of the hippie movement, the Vietnam draft, and the ennui and misery that results from broken relationships. This bleakness and decided lack of whimsy—uncharacteristic for Demy—had a large amount to do with Model Shop's critical and commercial failure.
Peau d\'Âne (Donkey Skin, 1970), was a step in a completely opposite direction is a visually extravagant musical interpretation of a classic French fairytale which highlights the tale's incestuous overtones, starring Deneuve, Jean Marais , and Delphine Seyrig . It was also Demy's first foray into the world of fairy-tales and historical fantasia, which he would explore more closely in The Pied Piper and Lady Oscar .
Subsequent films are less highly regarded, but are well be due for reappraisal: David Thomson wrote about "the fascinating application of the operatic technique to an unusually dark story" in Une chambre en ville (A Room in Town, 1982). L\'événement le plus important depuis que l\'homme a marché sur la lune (1973) (" A Slightly Pregnant Man ") is an interesting look back at the pressures of second-wave feminism in France, and the fears it elicited in men. Lady Oscar has been discussed and analyzed for its queer and political subtext (the title character is biologically born a woman, whose father raises her as a man so that she can get ahead in 18th century French aristocracy; Oscar eventually falls in love with her surrogate brother, a working-class revolutionary).
After years of neglect, Demy's strengths have been recognized, and Parapluies de Cherbourg was digitally restored and reissued to great acclaim in 1998. In 2014, The Criterion Collection released a boxset of Demy's most "essential" work, with hours of supplements, essays, and restored image and sound. The films include: Lola, Bay of Angels, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort, Donkey Skin, and Une Chambre en Ville, as well as most of Demy's early short films.
Demy was the husband of fellow director
Agnès Varda , whose Jacquot