French film The Umbrellas of Cherbourg starring Catherine Deneuve which won the coveted Palm dâ€™Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1964 and was nominated for five Oscars is being shown again at the event this year.
Jacques Demyâ€™s musical, which tells the story of a mother and daughter who sell umbrellas in the Normandy town of Cherbourg, has been specially restored for the event currently underway in Cannes in the south of France.
The film was originally shot on Eastman negative stock which rapidly faded and became almost unusable. In addition, the various copies of the film used in the cinema circuit also gradually lost their quality, which meant that it could never be seen with the rich colours that Demy had originally intended.
Knowing that the negatives would fade over time, Demy had the three main yellow, cyan and magenta colour separation masters made on black and white negative films that couldn’t fade.
These black and white negatives were transferred onto colour in the 1990s and now Luxury goods brand LVMH has sponsored the creation of a digital version that recaptures Demy’s vision of a fantastically colourful Cherbourg and the sound quality has also been improved.
Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH said the brand got involved as part of its commitment to the cultural and creative heritage of France. â€˜We were very sensitive to the wishes of the family of Agnes Varda and Jacques Demy in digitally restoring the film to ensure this masterpiece of French cinema can be enjoyed by future generations,â€™ he added.
Rosalie Varda-Demy, of the family production company, Cine-Tamaris, said that a copy of the restored film will be given to the French national film archives to ensure it is preserved for the future.
â€˜The film will now be available, in all its original splendour, to theatres with digital equipment which may no longer support analogue film,â€™ she explained.
The Umbrellas is the middle film in an informal romantic trilogy of Demy films that share some of the same actors, characters and overall look. It came out in 1963 after Lola and was followed in 1967 by The Young girls of Rochefort.
It follows the fortune of Madame Emery and her 17 year old daughter GeneviÃ¨ve, played by Deneuve, who sell umbrellas at their tiny boutique in Cherbourg. GeneviÃ¨ve is in love with 20 year old Guy, played by Nino Castelnuovo, a handsome, young auto mechanic who lives with and cares for his sickly aunt whose dedicated, young carer Madeleine is clearly in love with Guy. It is full of love, jealousy, broken hearts and forced separation.