Jacques Demy: The Essential Jacques Demy

Today is a big day for fans of Jacques Demy and The Criterion Collection. I’ve been a fan of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg for years, and on this past New Year’s Day The Criterion Collection hinted that they were going to release not only that musical classic but also several more of Demy’s films sometime in 2014. Well, it’s here: today’s the day we welcome The Essential Jacques Demy!

The Essential Jacques Demy

Notably, the box is titled “Essential” and not “Complete”† so we’re not getting Demy’s entire career here. Indeed, some might even say at least a few of Demy’s essential titles are missing; Model Shop, Demy’s first English-language film from 1969, has been thrown around as an essential title, and, though one I haven’t seen, I’m persuaded to agree if only because in it Anouk Aimée reprises her role from Demy’s first film, Lola, which is included. However, I don’t feel let down in the slightest. This set contains six of Demy’s eleven feature films, including two landmarks in cinema: the vibrant musicals The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and, its follow-up, The Young Girls of Rochefort. Indeed, other than Model Shop, the set contains all of Demy’s work from the 1960s, his most esteemed period (certainly the one I have heard the most about).

Here are the six films we have in this set:

  • Lola (1961)
  • Bay of Angels (1963)
  • The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
  • The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967)
  • Donkey Skin (1970)
  • Une Chambre en Ville (1982)

I can’t say a whole lot about the films at this point because most of them will be entirely new to me. My excitement is due entirely to my enchantment with The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and what I’ve gleaned to be Demy’s reputation among others whose opinions I trust. I’m excited to dig in and have a proper movie marathon!

Over the next few weeks I will have a lot more to say: I will be covering each of these films here, along with their various supplements (this release is nicely filled to the brim with documentaries, new and old interviews, individual essays on each of the features and one on Demy, and four of Demy’s early short films — Les horizons morts (1951), Le sabotier du Val de Loire (1956), Ars (1959), and La Luxure (1962) — among other supplemental features).

I hope some of you will join me in this marathon and discover or rediscover the fantasies of Jacques Demy.

† “Complete” is, however, in the title of the next Jacques set coming out from Criterion later this year, the recently announced The Complete Jacques Tati, coming in late October.

4 thoughts on “Jacques Demy: The Essential Jacques Demy

  1. Scott W. says:

    Delightful. I’ve seen three of these films, and would love to see the others. Parapluies contains one of my very favorite things in film, those few quiet still shots of deserted streets at the moment of consummation of the love story. And then there’s that fantastic Michel Legrand score. I’ll be eager to see that Jacques Tati set, too.

  2. Glad to find another fan! I just popped in Umbrellas, and it looks fantastic!

    By the way, which other two did you see?

  3. Scott W. says:

    Les Demoiselles de Rochefort and Peau d’ane. The Legrand Demy, in other words. Demoiselles is so saccharine that you won’t be able to keep from laughing, but such energy and openness! It’s almost more a delightful comestible than it is a film. I’m maybe even more of a fan of Demy’s partner Agnes Varda. Have you seen her films?

  4. I’ve seen, but don’t remember well, The Young Girls of Rochefort, but that’s it. From what I’ve heard, I’m very curious about Donkey Skin. It sounds so strange.

    As for Varda, I have seen Le Bonheur, but nothing else. I thought Le Bonheur was tremendous, though, so I’ve been meaning to dig into more of her work. I think this set, which features her in quite a few of the supplemental features, might spur me to do so sooner rather than later.

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