Les Demoiselles de Rochefort

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Reality and dreams are interchangeable in this landscape where even news of a violent murder takes on a kind of poetic realism. Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967) is literally Demy’s grandest film with a hefty budget and an English language version shot simultaneously. Pooling all the resources afforded to him, Demy creates his most lavish and fully realized foray into the musical genre.

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967) charts the intersections of various people’s lives in Rochefort with Delphine (Catherine Deneuve) and Solange (Françoise Dorléac) at the center. Kismet or serendipity draws lovers together through this tangled mess of lives with Jacques Demy’s visual allusions (Gentleman Prefer Blondes being the most obvious one) and Michel Legrand’s wondrous music. Les Demoiselles de Rochefort is a tapestry of love, lost and found, and the lengths to which people will go to find their partners.

Gene Kelly’s appearance in Les Demoiselles de Rochefort is the real coup for Demy, connecting his French fantasias to the Arthur Freed tradition. Kelly’s influence on choreography could already be seen in Demy’s earlier pictures but here Demy himself is photographing the legend. It’s a fitting swan song for Kelly and his contribution to both the genre and the medium of film itself.

Of all of the Demy films I have seen Les Demoiselles de Rochefort continues to be my favorite. It’s funny, self deprecating, self aware, poetic, visually ravishing, musically sophisticated, and the interconnections between characters feels as real as it does fantastic. Les Demoiselles de Rochefort always feels relevant, an epic testament to the power of music in our daily lives.