Group singing outside - One Sings The Other Doesn't 1977
One Sings, The Other Doesn't (1977)

From the Boulevards of Paris to the Docks of Cherbourg: Landmarks of the French Film Musical

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Wed 7 – Wed 21 February 2024

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While the film musical has been overwhelmingly associated with Hollywood’s Golden Age, French cinema harbours an equally rich tradition in the genre. Not only were French musicals as popular with their local audience as the genre was in the United States, but they were also an important artistic influence upon many of Hollywood’s most iconic practitioners, including Vincente Minnelli, Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly.

Following an innovative period led by René Clair during the advent of sound in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the French film musical flourished into a tremendously varied genre. This season encapsulates this diversity, featuring “realist” musicals such as Jean Renoir’s French Cancan (1955), proletarian musicals like Clair’s À nous la liberté (1931) and modernist musicals that critic Adrian Martin has called “the most striking contribution [France] has made to the international evolution of the genre”.

The musical was interrogated and re-worked by French filmmakers in the 1960s and 1970s, with the format attracting many of the nouvelle vague’s key directors and actors: from Jean-Luc Godard’s deconstruction of the genre, Une femme est une femme (1961), and the brilliantly self-reflexive collaboration of Anna Karina and Serge Gainsbourg for French TV, Anna (1967), to the works of Jacques Demy, who directed the dazzling The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and five other musicals from the mid 1960s to the late 1980s, and Agnès Varda, who turned the musical to radically feminist ends in the exuberant One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (1977).


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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