Jacques Demy directed The Young Girls of Rochefort (Les Demoiselles de Rochefort) (1967) with pomp, song, and love story in seeming imitation of Hollywood MGM musicals. From the opening scene, the film unfurls into outrageously sherbet-colored and saccharine visuals in a French garrison town. For this style, Demy was dismissed among his New Wave contemporaries as lightweight and superficial. However, over here in this dusty corner that is the Drawing Room, we find Demy misunderstood.
Consider how twin protagonists Delphine and Solange's remarks are mixed (played excellently by Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac). In scenes of dance and song, they appear lighthearted: "We are a pair of carefree young things, who love catchy tunes, silly puns and repartee..." Yet, in dialogue they are sentient and sharp. During an incident where Delphine's suitor speaks for her, Delphine retorts trenchantly.
Demy caricatures binary male and female ideals through an exaggerated, candy-colored musical. The suitors seek their "muse," "feminine ideal"; the twins play into the gender expectations, but with reluctant fatalism. The characters, in the face of repressive gender constraints and in the foreground of war, can do nothing else but carry on with overt euphoria.
About fifty years later and in two weeks, all that may change. The dictation of the "feminine ideal" be finally usurped off its throne. We must continuously challenge repressive gender roles for the growth of society.
On that note, we have put together a playlist that celebrates strong female artists; this week's genre pertains to jazz in particular.
MUSIC THAT IS BY THE FEMININE IDEAL (Open in Spotify)
I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free——Nina Simone
I Just Want to Make Love to You——Etta James
I Didn't Know What Time It Was——Cecile McLorin Salvant
Honeysuckle Rose——Fats Welder, Andy Razef
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman——Aretha Franklin
It's a Man's Man's Man's World——Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox
Dirty No-Gooder's Blues——Amina Claudine Myers
You Don't Own Me——Brenna Whittaker