Donkey Skin

Synopsis

This charming adaptation of a fairy tale by Charles Perrault (creator of “Cinderella”) has been called Jacques Demy’s “grand synthesis of Cocteau and Minnelli.” With its wondrous costumes and vivid play of colors; its ingenious trick effects, calculated flights of fancy, and dream sequences; and its stellar cast, Peau d’âne has become a classic for adults and young people alike. There are dark sides to the fable, with an unusual theme of incest; but in Demy’s tongue-in-cheek translation, the net result is infectious delight. The tale involves a beautiful Princess (Catherine Deneuve) whose own father, the Blue King (Jean Marais), desires to marry her in order to fulfill a deathbed promise to his wife that his next wife be even more beautiful than herself. The Princess enlists the aid of the Lilac Fairy (Delphine Seyrig), and together they devise a scheme of imaginative demands designed to thwart even the most ardent suitor. When all are met—this being an enchanted kingdom—the Princess is forced to flee, clothed in a donkey skin, to a nearby forest where she takes refuge until a charming prince provides the inevitable happy ending. Talking roses, magic donkeys, Blue Kings and Red Princes, and philosophical fairies floating in the sky: make-believe was never wittier, nor more enchanting.

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