Ever since 1992, when I stumbled, completely ignorant and unprepared, into a screening of the restored version introduced by Agnes Varda (“she does documentaries or something, right?” was all I had in my head), I’ve been transfixed and fascinated by The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.
It’s an unabashed-yet-triste story of young love, set in a color-saturated fantasy French town, about a girl left pregnant and alone when her mechanic boyfriend gets shipped off to the war in Algeria. And the whole thing is sung, to music by Michel Legrand. Cherbourg made Catherine Deneuve a star, even though her voice was dubbed. What the hell is this thing? I still don’t know, but I love it.
Go to Film Forum by Thursday to find out. Zeitgeist Films has struck a new 35mm print for the movie’s 40th anniversary. You could buy the old DVD, or wait until April for a new release, but seriously, go see it in the theater. Read Jessica Winter’s tribute to the film.