Monday, February 4, 2013

An Original Film Musical - "Les Parapluies de Cherbourg"

While many of the most memorable film musicals were adaptations from stage productions, one shining original film opera (in which all dialogues were sung) that I can think of is “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg”. This was a hugely successful 1964 French film musical that had a subsequent English-language stage adaptation in 1979 and a more recent one in 2011.

Here’s the link to the poignant love theme song in “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg” (“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”):-

The film won the Palme d’Or award at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival. It catapulted Catherine Deneuve to stardom and brought world fame to Michel Legrand’s music.

It is a heart wrenching love story in which two Cherbourg lovers (Genevieve and Guy) were separated by Guy being drafted into military service for the Algerian War. The fateful separation was accentuated by the irony that Genevieve’s pregnancy - a result of lovemaking just prior to Guy’s departure – caused their eventual permanent breakup, as it led to Genevieve’s mother insisting (for practical reasons) that she should marry a wealthy businessman in Guy’s absence. Upon Guy’s return from the war, he felt heart-broken for a while and then married another girl who had always been in love with him, and later had a son with her. In the last episode, Genevieve showed up in a Mercedes with her (and Guy’s) daughter at the gas station which Guy had bought with an inheritance from his aunt. Genevieve got out of the car to go inside the station to chat with Guy. When Genevieve asked Guy whether he wished to meet “their” daughter, he declined. The two parted wistfully, their emotions in check.

The story calls to mind a Mandarin song by a Taiwanese singer about the remote possibility of a past love being rekindled “有多少愛可以從來?” (“What are the chances of a rekindling of past love?”)

Here’s the link to the song:-

Some of you may know that there’s a Cantonese version of this song rendered by Faye Wong “愛與痛的邊緣 (although the Cantonese lyrics tell a story of unrequited love):-