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(aka "The Young Girls of Rochefort" or "Les Demoiselles de Rochefort" )

 

directed by Jacques Demy
France 1967

 

Most musicals shift back and forth between story (spoken dialogue) and song-and-dance numbers--sometimes creating queasy transitions just before or after these shifts, when we're uncertain where we are stylistically. But The Young Girls of Rochefort often daringly places story and musical numbers on the screen simultaneously, mixing them in various ways and in different proportions. One of the stars may be walking down the street, for example, but the pedestrians around her are suddenly dancing, and she slips momentarily in and out of their choreography. This curious mix produces powerful, deeply felt emotions--an exuberance combined with a sublime sense of absurdity, shot through with an almost constant sense of loss, yearning, and even tragedy. Yet the coexistence of this strangeness and this intensity will inevitably make some American viewers laugh in disbelief and regard the whole spectacle as an esoteric piece of camp. (The same problem exists to a lesser extent in two of my favorite American freak musicals, Love Me Tonight and Hallelujah, I'm a Bum, both of which display a related metaphysical impulse to perceive the musical form as a continuous state of delirious being rather than a traditional story with musical eruptions.)
 

[...]


Masterpieces normally connote perfection, but it might be argued that some of the imperfections in The Young Girls of Rochefort enhance the overall experience by bringing it closer to life, making the actors seem more vulnerable. (Other imperfections, like the product plugs during the climactic fair--another parallel with Playtime, given some of its neon signs--are simple reminders of the difficulties of making big-budget French movies.) Darrieux, for instance, is the only cast member who does her own singing, though the dubbing of the others is usually carried out well, with the actors' singing voices carefully matched to their speaking voices (including Kelly's spoken French). More artificial are Delphine's and Solange's performances on trumpet and flute. Yet given some of Demy's original plans for the movie, it's a miracle it turned out as well as it did. Before he selected Rochefort as his location, he considered making "Les demoiselles d'Avignon," "Les demoiselles d'Hyeres," "Les demoiselles de Toulouse," and "Les demoiselles de La Rochelle," among others. Rochefort won out because of the size of its central square, though production designer Bernard Evein found it necessary to repaint 40,000 square meters of the city's facades. (Still, director Andre Techine has cited the movie as one of the best ever made about this part of France.) Even more improbable, Demy originally thought of casting Brigitte Bardot and Geraldine Chaplin as the twin sisters.

Excerpts from Jonathan Rosenbaum's Review in the Chicago Reader HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: March 8th, 1967

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DVD Comparison:

Miramax - Region 1 - NTSC vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Stan Czarnecki for the Miramax Screen Caps!

(Miramax - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Miramax

Region 1 - NTSC

BFI
Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 2:04:46 2:00:16
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 3.91 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.35:! Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.55 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Miramax

 

Bitrate:

 

BFI

 

Audio French (Dolby Digital 2.0)

French (LPCM 2.0)

Subtitles English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Miramax

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Sneak Peeks

DVD Release Date: January 22nd, 2002
Keep Case

Chapters 21

Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:!

Edition Details:
• Les Demoiselles ont eu 25 ans (1:03:26)
• Extracts from the Guardian Interview in which Catherine Deneuve talks about working with Jacques Demy and his influence on her career (7:03)
• Audio extracts from Gene Kelly's Guardian Lecture on the Hollywood Musical (19:29)
• Illustrated booklet containing original publicity photos and production stills

 

DVD Release Date: July 28th, 2008
Keep Case

Chapters 20

 

Comments

Addition: BFI: March 2010: The two discs differ from one another in a number of key ways, but nowhere is it more obvious than in the picture quality. The BFI edition is definitely clearer than the Miramax release, but also has a completely different color palette! The Miramax disc has richer colors, but looks over saturated, with certain colors reaching unnatural levels. The colors on the BFI's disc, however, look almost washed out. So, which color scheme comes closet to Demy's original intent? The answer is the one used in the BFI transfer. After a bit of research, I found that the restoration used by the BFI was occurred in 1996 and was supervised by the great Angnes Varda, Demy's widow. If anyone would know what the pastels are supposed to look like in this film, it'd be her. The sound is likely a step up as well, with the BFI using a LPCM 2.0 audio mix that sounds remarkably clear, and does justice to the film's musical numbers. The extras on the BFI are obviously superior to the more or less bare bones Miramax edition. The most important addition is the Varda directed "Les Demoiselles ont eu 25 ans", which features footage shot on the set of the film, along with contemporary interviews from cast members. It's really a charming documentary and gives the viewer an intriguing view into the filmmaking process. Also included is a 2005 interview of Deneuve with the Guardian in which she discusses her involvement with two of Demy's musicals. Next, there's an audio recording of Kelly lecturing on the Hollywood musical that's accompanied by stills. Finally, there's a 22 page illustrated booklet with essays on the film and the participants. Overall the BFI disc wins on all counts and is a really lovely package. Recommended.

 - Brian Montgomery

ON THE MIRAMAX: Miramax presents Jacques Demy's eternally beautiful "The Young Girls of Rochefort" in the restored version that graced US movie theatres in 1998.

The image is almost flawless. Demy's sparkling pop colors are pristinely preserved and the picture has just the right amount of grain. (Ed. - there are instances of artifacts and haziness and I can't help but think this would be vastly improved with a better compression transfer or especially if it ever makes it to hi-def).
 

As for the sound, the French Dolby Digital 2.0 track does everything right. Both dialogue and Michel Legrand's fabulous score are perfectly audible.

There are no extras here, but at least Miramax made the English subtitles optional.

 - Stan Czarnecki

 



DVD Menus
(
Miramax - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Miramax - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Miramax - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Miramax - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Miramax - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Miramax - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Miramax - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Miramax - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

BFI

Sound:

BFI

Extras: BFI
Menu: BFI

 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Miramax

Region 1 - NTSC

BFI
Region 2 - PAL

 




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