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Les demoiselles de Rochefort(1967)
Jacques Demy followed up THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG with another musical about missed connections and second chances, this one a more effervescent confection. Twins Delphine and Solange, a dance instructor and a music teacher (played by real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac), long for big-city life; when a fair comes through their quiet port town, so does the possibility of escape. With its jazzy Michel Legrand score, pastel paradise of costumes, and divine supporting cast (George Chakiris, Grover Dale, Danielle Darrieux, Michel Piccoli and Gene Kelly), THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT is a tribute to Hollywood optimism from sixties French cinema's preeminent dreamer.
For more about Les demoiselles de Rochefort and the Les demoiselles de Rochefort Blu-ray release, see Les demoiselles de Rochefort Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on October 13, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, George Chakiris, Françoise Dorléac, Gene Kelly, Jacques Perrin, Michel Piccoli
Director: Jacques Demy
» See full cast & crew
Les demoiselles de Rochefort Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 13, 2010
Jacques Demy's "Les demoiselles de Rochefort" a.k.a. "The Young Girls of Rochefort" (1967) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Arte Video. The supplemental features on the disc include Agnes Varda's documentary film "Les demoiseles ont eu 25 ans" (1993); discussion with French directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau; short analysis of the film and its history narrated by Mathieu Demy; original theatrical trailer for the film; and promo trailer for Jacques Demy's Collection. In French, with optional English, French, and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
So here we are, forty three years later, and Jacques Demy's Les demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Girls of Rochefort) stills looks as intoxicatingly beautiful as I remember it. There is something about it that makes one dream impossible dreams. The visuals, the music, the atmosphere, everything is perfect.
Demy and legendary composer Michel Legrand completed The Young Girls of Rochefort in 1967, three years after they introduced the equally charming The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. There are obvious similarities between the two, but The Young Girls of Rochefort was clearly meant to be something different.
Demy adored Vincente Minnelli's An American in Paris and Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins' West Side Story and wanted to film a musical that would be just as lavish and glamorous. Naturally, George Chakiris, who had already won an Oscar for playing Bernardo in West Side Story, and Gene Kelly were invited to join Catherine Deneuve, her sister Françoise Dorleac (who died shortly after The Umbrellas of Cherbourg premiered in French theaters), Michel Piccoli, Jacques Perrin, Jacques Riberolles, Danielle Darrieuxm and Genevieve Thénier in The Young Girls of Rochefort.
As its title suggests, The Young Girls of Rochefort is set in the provincial town of Rochefort where men and women of different ages dream of falling in love. The Garnier sisters, Delphine (Catherine Deneuve, Indochine) and Solange (Françoise Dorleac, Cul-de-sac), dream of meeting their ideal men who would show them the world. Yvonne (Danielle Darrieux, Scene of the Crime) had Delphine and Solange from a man she did not have the courage to marry. He left and she fell in love with another man, Simon Dame (Michel Piccoli, Dillinger Is Dead), but ran away from him because she did not want to be called Madam Dame. When he started looking for her, she asked a friend to tell him that she married a tycoon in Mexico. Now she regrets her decision and secretly dreams of falling in love again. After years of living alone in Paris, Simon has returned to Rochefort to open a music store. Out of the blue he is visited by an old friend, Andy Miller (Gene Kelly, Les Girls), who has become a famous composer in America. Like Yvonne, Simon is lonely and secretly dreams of having someone to share his life with. Maxence (Jacques Perrin, Cinema Paradiso) is a handsome blond sailor who has painted a portrait of the girl he wants to fall in love with. Though he does not know it yet, Delphine looks exactly like the girl from the portrait. There are also two carnies, Etienne (George Chakiris, Kings of the Sun) and Bill (Grover Dale), looking for beautiful girls to join them on their trip to Paris.
The Young Girls of Rochefort is a long musical with a complicated story. Unlike The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, it features elaborate dance numbers that are linked via short spoken interludes. Furthermore, while in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg the individual parts are sung by the cast in The Young Girls of Rochefort practically everyone is dubbed (only Danielle Darrieux sung her part). Finally, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is characterized by sorrow and ache while The Young Girls of Rochefort is genuinely light, sunny, and oozing optimism.
Note: In 1969, The Young Girls of Rochefort was nominated for Oscar Award for Best Music, Score of a Musical Picture/Original or Adaptation (Michel Legrand, Jacques Demy).
Les demoiselles de Rochefort Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, encoded with VC-1 and granted a 1080p transfer, Jacques Demy's Les demoiselles de Rochefort arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Arte Video.
This new digital high-definition transfer involved a large amount of 2K restoration work, and the final result is indeed very impressive. Fine object detail is outstanding, clarity excellent, and contrast levels consistent throughout the entire film. What impresses the most, however, is the color scheme; reds, yellows, greens, blues, browns, blacks, and whites are exceptionally rich and well saturated; certain scenes truly look like moving pictures. Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are not a serious issue of concern (there are 2-3 scenes where I noticed extremely mild edge-enhancement creeping in, but I doubt most viewers will spot it). There are no traces of excessive noise reduction either. The grain structure is fully intact, which is why when blown through a digital projector Les demoiselles de Rochefort looks quite remarkable. Early into the film I noticed a tiny mark, which must have been inherited. The rest of the film, however, looks notably healthy; there are no scratches, stains, cuts, warps, or debris. Finally, there are no serious stability issues to report in this review. All in all, Les demoiselles de Rochefort looks spectacular, without a doubt the best it ever has. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray release. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is no problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu).
Les demoiselles de Rochefort Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Arte Video have provided optional English, French, and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, the English subtitles appear inside the image frame.
The French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is excellent. The dynamic amplitude is easily the best I have heard, with low and mid range frequencies being particularly strong (on the R1 DVD Disney/Miramax released there are a number of distortions). The dialog and singing are crisp, clean, stable, and very easy to follow. There are no balance issues with legendary composer Michel Legrand's beautiful score either. Lastly, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, hissings, or dropouts to report in this review. For the record, the English translation is very good.
Les demoiselles de Rochefort Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: Some of the supplemental features on this Blu-ray disc are encoded in PAL and 1080/50i. Therefore, if you reside in North America, or another region where PAL and 1080/50i are not supported, you must have a Region-Free player capable of converting PAL to NTSC and 1080/50i to 1080/60i, or a TV set capable of receiving native PAL and 1080/50i data, in order to view them.
Les demoiseles ont eu 25 ans, par Agnes Varda - The Young Girls Turn 25 a.k.a. The Demoiselles Turned 25 is a documentary film by Agnes Varda which offers an in-depth look at the production history of Jacques Demy's beloved film. Director Agnes Varda and Catherine Deneuve visit many of the locations in Rochefort where the film was shot, while various cast and crew members discuss their contribution to it. Various cast and crew members discuss their work on the film as well. In French, with optional English subtitles. (64 min, PAL).
Le film vu par... - French directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau (Drole de Felix, Nes en 68) discuss the major impact the films of Jacques Demy had on their careers as filmmakers. In French, with optional English subtitles. (4 min, 1080/50i).
A propos du film - a quick summation of Les demoiselles de Rochefort and its history narrated by Mathieu Demy. In French, with optional English subtitles. (2 min, 1080/50i).
Bande-annonce - the original theatrical trailer for Les demoiselles de Rochefort. In French, not subtitled. (4 min, 1080p).
La collection Jacques Demy - a promo trailer for Jacques Demy's Collection, courtesy of Cine-Tamaris. In French, not subtitled. (6 min, PAL).
Les demoiselles de Rochefort Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
French distributors Arte Video have put together a fantastic package for Jacques Demy's beautiful Les demoiselles de Rochefort. The technical presentation is very strong and the the supplemental content outstanding. The main feature and the supplemental content are English-friendly. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed is also Region-Free. Yes, Les demoiselles de Rochefort will definitely appear on my Top 10 list at the end of 2010. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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