Jacques Demy

Author: Darren Waldron

Few directors are as ambiguously placed in the French popular imaginary as Jacques Demy. With nine shorts and thirteen full-length features, Demy's filmography is solid. Although he died in October 1990, Demy's legacy as an iconic director for generations of admirers and filmmakers endures. This book examines Demy's relation to the French New Wave (Nouvelle Vague). It probes Demy's 'musicals', Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort and Une chambre en ville. The book shows how the films comply with and deviate from the codes and conventions of the Hollywood staple, producing a specifically Gallic and 'Demyesque' twist on the genre. It is a commonplace of writings on Demy to highlight his 'monde en-/ enchanté', meaning both 'expressed through song' and 'enchanted'. The book examines Demy's adaptations of fairytale (Peau d'âne), fable (The Pied Piper) and myth (Parking). The representations of gender and sexuality in Demy's cinema, with particular attention to Le Bel Indifférent, La Naissance du jour L'Evénement le plus important depuis que l'homme a marché sur la lune and Lady Oscar are analysed. Finally, the book reveals how his final feature, Trois places pour le 26, establishes the foundations of his posthumous myth, which Agnès Varda and other directors have affirmed and supplemented since his death. Beneath the apparently sugary coating of his films lie more philosophical reflections on some of the most pressing issues that preoccupy Western societies, including affect, subjectivity, self/other relations and free will.

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