“I love you, my daughter, and wish to marry you.”
A king (Jean Marais) whose dying wife (Micheline Presle) makes him promise he will only remarry if he can find someone wiser and more beautiful than herself decides that his grown daughter (Catherine Deneuve) is the sole suitable candidate. After seeking advice from her fairy godmother (Delphine Seyrig), the conflicted princess (Denevue) runs away from home dressed in a donkey skin, and meets a prince (Jacques Perrin) whose love may rescue her from her dire situation.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Catherine Deneuve Films
- Delphine Seyrig Films
- Folk Tales, Fairy Fales and Mythology
- French Films
- Incest and Incestuous Undertones
- Jacques Demy Films
- Mistaken or Hidden Identities
- Royalty and Nobility
Jacques Demy’s adaptation (with cheery music by Michel Legrand) of Charles Perrault’s fairytale is an odd affair indeed — starting with the central conflict, which leaves one decidedly uncomfortable. Marais clearly isn’t a villain (he loves his wife and wants to “do the right thing” for the sake of his lineage) yet his request is untenable and icky: if one should obey one’s parents but not commit incest, what’s a girl to do? Thankfully, Marais’ Oedipal interest in his daughter is never manifested beyond hypothetical plans. Instead, the story shifts to a Cinderella-esque tale, with Deneuve going undercover in rags and a ring replacing the specially-sized glass slipper. The colorful costumes and sets are truly gorgeous, and Seyrig has fun in her role as Deneuve’s fairy caretaker — but this one will likely only appeal to fans of Demy’s unusual oeuvre.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Magical sets and costumes
- Vibrant cinematography
No, though it’s worth a one-time look simply for the gorgeous visuals — and of course Demy fans will want to check it out.