The World of Jacques Demy

(France, 1995, 90 mins, DCP)
In French with English subtitles
Director:
FEATURING Anouk Aimee, Catherine Deneuve, Harrison Ford, Jeanne Moreau, Michel Piccoli, Dominique Sanda

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Agnès Varda’s tribute to her late husband Jacques Demy (1931-1990) is a loving look at his brilliant vision and techniques. Included are clips from Demy’s films, along with interviews of those who worked with him and knew him best: Catherine Deneuve, Anouk Aimée, Michel Piccoli, composer Michel Legrand, Demy’s children, and fans. Among the more surprising interviewees is Harrison Ford, chosen by Demy for his US debut, Model Shop, only to be rejected by Columbia executives who insisted on an established star (and cast Gary Lockwood).

A happy working class boy who grew up in the Atlantic port Nantes, Demy began making animated short films in his bedroom when he was still just a child, creating models and puppets, a world unto himself. He would stay true to that project throughout his career.

The Demy-monde is a place of romance, song, grace and sometimes sorrow. Often, as one French critic said of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), it is ’even better than heaven’.

“Of all the New Wave directors who once professed their joy in cinema, Demy remained most faithful to the delights of sight and sound and to the romance of movie iconography. With loving attention to those Atlantic coast towns — Nantes, Rochefort, and Cherbourg — where he grew up, Demy invented a world of benign and enchanting imagination.”

– David Thomson