Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Once upon a time ...

DONKEY SKIN - PEAU D'ANE, 1970: Jacques Demy's ode to the classic fairy tale by 17th century author Charles Perrault comes to life with breathtaking brilliance. Digitally restored and remastered by Agnes Varda (Demy's wife) this epic tale overflows with dazzling elaborate costumes and an enchanting score by Academy Award-winning composer Michel Legrand.

Catherine Deneuve stars as a princess whose father The King wants to marry her after promising his dying wife (also Denueve) only to wed a woman more beautiful that she. Listening to her godmother, The Lilac Fairy, the frightened princess flees to a neighbourhood farm and hides as a scullery maid, while wearing the skin of her father's prize donkey as a disguise. A visiting prince passes by and of course falls for the princess. 

Ahead of its time and strikingly modern in its design, this warts and all fairytale is perhaps the Demy film most ready for discovery. - So goes the blurb for this delightful fairy tale.

Having already seen Demy's other fairy tale THE PIED PIPER from 1972 with its British cast, his 1970 Perrault tale is also endless delight to see again now. The shots of Deneuve wearing the donkey skin gliding through the forest and mixing with the other villagers are like something from a dream. The King is Jean Marais (ORPHEE), and the prince Jacques Perrin, who had teamed with Deneuve several times before. Micheline Presle (who starred in BLIND DATE, Joseph Losey label) is the prince's mother, and best of all Delphine Seyrig (right) is a total delight as the vampish fairy godmother. The sets and costumes are constantly delighful, particularly those dresses the princess asks the King for: the dress the colour of the weather, and of the moon, and of the sun (this brings back a childhood memory, I must have read these stories as a child) - finally she asks for the skin of the donkey who defecates gold and coins and jewels, and the besotted father gives it to her, before she runs away.  Its deliciously funny and inventive when all the princesses and maids in the kingdom queue up to try on the ring that Donkey Skin put in the cake for the prince to find - and when her father and the Lilac Fairy turn up by helicopter for their wedding.The large cast and those marvellous costumes which constantly delight must mean this was an expensive production. It was also scripted by Demy and lensed by Ghislain Cloquet.

Demy with Marais and Deneuve
I particularly like Demy's first two, those stunning black and white films LOLA and BAY OF ANGELS, and then his two musicals: THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG in 1964 and LES DEMOISELLES DE ROCHEFORT in '67. PEAU D'ANE was his first on his return to France after making the disappointing MODEL SHOP in Los Angeles in ther late '60s. The dvd also has the trailer for his next: THE SLIGHTLY PREGNANT MAN with Mastroianni and Deneuve and looking so very early '70s. We now need to seek out those later Demy films like UN CHAMBRE EN VILLE ...More on Demy (1931  - 1990) at Demy label. 

Some more Deneuve titles shortly: INDOCHINE, Truffaut's THE LAST METRO, two by Andre Techine: MY FAVOURITE SEASON and HOTEL AMERICA, and I may re-look at THE HUNGER too ! and of course I loved her in Ozon's POTICHE recently (Deneuve, Ozon labels), didn't care much for A CHRISTMAS TALE though ...

No comments:

Post a Comment