One of the most celebrated and influential movements of international cinema is no doubt, French New Wave. This movement, that began in the late 1950s and continued into the 1960s, is known notably for the work of directors like François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, with films like The 400 Blows and Breathless. While most French New Wave films graced the screen in black and white, with plots reminiscent of Hollywood genres like gangster film and film noir, there was a director painting French screens with effervescent, candy-coloured hues of lyrical wit. Jacques Demy is a director that stands apart from the rest, with screenplays that were a tribute to the Hollywood musicals of directors like Vincente Minnelli and Stanley Donan. Demy’s cleverly written screenplays intertwine with similar themes (chance encounters, nostalgia, abandonment) and characters. His deviation from the traditional conventions of French cinema delivered a musical unlike any other: The Young Girls of Rochefort.
Just as the 1967 film is an homage to the Hollywood musical, the tributes to it have been returned, most notably in Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, making it one of the most influential musicals to date. However, for many years, this wasn’t the case. It was overshadowed immensely by Demy’s previous musical venture, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, receiving a lukewarm reception, and disappearing quickly. It would take decades for film historians to see it on the same level of genius as Cherbourg, and equally as long for it to receive a re-release.