Technicolor romantic fantasy with music! dancing! Catherine Deneuve! Gene Kelly! Françoise Dorléac!

Les Demoiselles of Rochefort is a technicolor bon-bon of a musical  and a fun example of French cinema of the 1960s.  At its core, it’s a paen to the relief dreams can bring you as well as reminder that true love depends on chance just as much as it does circumstance, looks and charm.



The film centers around Delphine (Deneuve) and Solange (Dorléac), twins “born under the sign of pisces” (Deneuve and Dorléac were sisters in real life as well.  Tragically, Dorléac was killed in a car accident shortly after filming wrapped)  who teach music and  singing (Solange) and dance (Delphine) to the children of the town.  The twins feel stifled and dream of making it big in Paris -- and of course, finding love.



While I love a great 60s-era music and dance production as much as the next person, what really drew me into the dilm by Jacques Demy is is obvious love and understanding of the use of color.



Stephanie Zacharek said it best in her review of the film for Salon:




For Demy, the arrangement of colors, their saturation, their movement, were vehicles to move the story along, ways to tell small secrets about his characters. His love affair with color is one of his greatest legacies, which is why it's so fitting (and such a relief) that two of his most ravishing color films have now been restored. If a movie's colors could make you cry, surely it would be these: There's so much deliberate care in the way, say, a basket of vibrant yellow lemons contrasts with the raspberry of a woman's dress, and yet the composition also seems completely organic, a simple reflection of the wacky contrasts found all over nature. At the end of the movie, when all the lovers finally pair off, you realize their outfits all color-coordinate perfectly, a sign from the heavens that they were made for each other. For Demy, romance and color were inseparable, and as elemental as air and water.


Demy also understood color as sheer entertainment, and that's probably why, if you can let yourself sink into the plush hues and visual lyricism of "The Young Girls of Rochefort," its various little problems shrink away.




After watching the film, how can you not want to put on a brightly colored outfit (or a scarf if you are a little color shy) or paint a room an invigorating shade of lemon yellow?



Paen: A song or hymn of praise, joy, or triumph, originally sung by Greeks in gratitude to Apollo.