some of my favorite things #1: lola (1961)

It took thirty-some years… but I finally fell in love with the films of Jacques Demy early last year.  Well, to be exact, I fell in love with Demy’s debut Lola (1961), starring the alluring Anouk Aimée as the title character, a dancehall girl with big fantasies and a broken heart, and the subsequent phantasmagoric musicals by way of an ever shifting Gallic naturalism, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (1964) and Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967).  The latter two films are connected to Lola in loose but fascinating ways (as is Demy’s first feature for an American studio, Model Shop from 1969, which I haven’t seen) and redefined the musical genre by juxtaposing sometimes gritty or provocative subject matter with memorable musical flourishes from composer Michel Legrand.  I still need to see Demy’s second film, La Baie des Anges (1963), starring Jeanne Moreau, and then there are his post-1969 fantasy films like Peau d’Âne and The Pied Piper.

Demy, who during the early days of the French nouvelle vague was widely appreciated, especially by Godard, was pretty much derided by the time May 1968 came scorching in… especially by Godard again who felt that his old compatriot should take his head out of the cinematic clouds and engage with political reality.  But Demy maintained his own artistic trajectory, though in doing so he arguably dimmed in the eyes of many critics and audiences alike.  His reputation since his death in the early 1990s seems to have slowly regained some footing and it’s about time.

This clip is from the opening moments of Lola.  Lensed by the great Raoul Coutard (who shot many of the pivotal films of Godard and Truffaut), the scene perfectly sets up the mystery at the heart of the tale and within Lola herself.  And maybe Ludwig has a little something to do with it as well.

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5 comments on “some of my favorite things #1: lola (1961)

  1. Jeremy says:

    I admire Demy quite a bit although I need to see more of his films…UMBRELLAS is one of my all time favorites though.
    I wanted to thank you for having a link to my blog, Moon In The Gutter, here and have returned the favor over there. I really appreciate the support and I hope you keep finding things of interest.

  2. derek says:

    Thank you, Jeremy. It’s always lovely to find like minds who obsess in similar patterns.

    All the best!

  3. Liz says:

    Hi Derek
    Your Ballinamore neighbour here writing from Paris.

    I spent some time wandering the Rue des Ecoles this afternoon. There are 4 or 5 contemporary cinemas around there.

    July is also French Film week so I went into all the cinemas and nabbed any brochures, postcards and flyers.

    I have the whole of the July programme brochure; postcard of films – aki kaurismakis; regarde sur la femme, l’affaire thomas crown,a werner herzog film ( Aguirre la colere de dieu), 20 woody allen films, a mini poster of a robert taylor/ stewart granger film (l derniere chasse), cinema japonais (some amazing films rangingfrom the 30’s to the 70’s) a mini poster of la mouche noire (a kurt neumann film with vincent price).

    I’ll see what else I can gather as I wander.

    Congrats on the Spain win.

    I’ll see you and Lynda when I get home on Sunday.

    Liz

  4. derek says:

    Hey Liz!

    Great to hear from you. Thank you so much for picking up those goodies. I’m thoroughly jealous.

    See you soon.

  5. sandrar says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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