Les Demoiselles de Rochefort

Jacques Demy, France, 1967


This extract comprises one single long take, where the organisation of rhythms, movements of characters and colours demanded great precision. Jacques Demy liked and was inspired by the classic studio musicals, but he was well aware that it wouldn’t be possible for him to make his films under the same conditions as Singing in the Rain. He was also very fond of the natural settings imposed on French cinema by the aesthetics of the Nouvelle Vague, a movement to which he was very close. He therefore made the choice to film his large scale dance routines outside in the real town of Rochefort. He stepped away from the total control that a studio environment offers, and imposed the film’s colour palate on to the streets and town itself.

To film this long take he repainted this corner of the street with the film’s colours, the wall on the corner in yellow, the other in white. He also balanced the colours of the costumes against that of the backgrounds.  Francoise Dorléac is clad from head to toe in yellow, her dress, hat and even the shopping bag in her hand are all yellow.   Gene Kelly wears a mauve jacket over a pink shirt.  As Francoise Dorléac drops her load, the camera dips to follow the action and discovers a pink fountain that balances with Gene Kelly’s costume. The extras that mill around and dance in the street, much as in a Broadway scene, are all clad in pastel colours so as not to clash with the film’s visual aesthetic.


reworked set.