Commentary Track

Donkey Skin (1970)

This week on The Spectator Film Podcast...

Donkey Skin (1970) || 2/12/21
Featuring: Austin, Maxx

Commentary track begins at 9:36

— Notes —

[Notes forthcoming!]

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One Comment

  • Benoit Migneault

    Excellent podcast that I discovered while listening to your review of Peau d’Âne.

    To answer a question you asked, “Peau” means “skin” and “Âne” means “Donkey”.

    I live in Montreal and I can confirm that when I was a child, in the 70’s, the movie was very popular. I first saw it in elementary school when it was shown to all the students as part of a movie activity. In France, it has been a tradition for a long time to watch it during the Christmas vacations when it was broadcasted on television.

    There is a certain mystery about the text since Charles Perrault wrote the verse version and the prose version suddenly appeared, in a later edition, without it being possible to identify the author.

    The character of the shrew who spits toads is a classic of old tales and it is therefore quite normal to find her in Jacques Demy’s adaptation.

    The king’s flowery beard is an amusing reference to King Charlemagne, who is often called the Emperor with a flowery beard, a mistranslation of the Old French word “flori” which does not mean flowery, but rather, a shiny, white beard. The nod is amusing.

    Anachronisms are indeed legion in the film and this is explained by the fact that the Lilac Fairy communicates with the poets of the future. Jean Marais makes a reference to this subject. In this regard, the fact that the magician says that it is perfectly normal for a little girl to want to marry her father is not meant to be sinister, but rather an amusing reference to notions of popular psychology, which Jacques Demy makes fun of by implying that one can make almost anything say what one wants. When the king asks his question to the magician, the latter searches a little and then remembers a book where he literally quotes extracts related to the Oedipus Complex. However, the reading and analysis is done at the first degree and when the king asks the magician if he would marry his own daughter, the magician answers that he unfortunately does not have one, but that if he did, he would surely marry her.In short, once again, we make fun of the great ones of this world who speak without really mastering a subject.

    For your information, the colorful dress of time has long mystified the spectators: how could such special effects have been realized in 1970? The answer is relatively simple and was discovered by digging into the film archives. The dress was made from a movie cloth and images of the sun and clouds were projected onto it.

    Finally, none of the actors actually sing in the film. They are all dubbed by singers specialized in dubbing. Catherine is dubbed by the same singer, Anne Germain, in all three of Demy’s musicals, which means that her real voice is never heard throughout “Les Parapluie de Cherbourg”. Also interesting, Delphine Seyrig is dubbed in the songs by Michel Legrand’s sister, Christiane Legrand.

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