Donkey Skin Screen 7 articles

Donkey Skin

1970

Donkey Skin Poster
  • It doesn't come off, despite a dazzling color design and imaginative sets, perhaps because Demy's extremely rarefied talent for fantasy needs to be anchored by a touch of the real.

  • Demy has the climactic wedding guests arrive on the palace lawn in a helicopter, an almost Alex Cox-ian jolt that suggests a subtle farcical program that suddenly becomes restless and explicit. In any case, the prescribed happy ending is difficult to take seriously relative to the images of Deneuve... groveling in the forest dirt wearing a musty pelt. Demy loved romantic naïveté, but he loved the wreckage of human whim just as much, and for him this chestnut harbored both in its shell.

  • The hyper-designed sets suggest a Cocteau-hour Disneyland (or maybe Demy checked out the Madonna Inn when he shot his previous film “The Model Shop” in Los Angeles)... Like Demy’s other movies it’s one of a kind, at once monstrously Oedipal and charmingly infantile; Deneuve managed to be both hilarious and touching in her donkey drag.

  • To qualify it as a minor work though seems a great disservice, as anyone who's seen the film knows there's nothing slight about it. It's required viewing for anyone remotely interested in understanding Demy, but even for those with simpler aims DONKEY SKIN is a willfully bizarre lark that rises above any "so bad it's good" pigeonholing.

  • Demy follows his every whim creating a mise en scène gleefully overdosing on silly details, some of them inspired, some endearingly tacky—but the cartoonish decoration is a smokescreen for what is a transgressive subversion of candy-coated fairy tales with a princess escaping the desires of her father (however disingenuously) to pursue her own, exposing the arbitrary, petty and shallow passions of the men around her.

  • There's plenty of disguised sex in Donkey Skin. Perrin's prince is addressed by a very vaginal pink rose, the center of which talks at him with a woman's mouth and looks at him with a woman's eyes. When he's trying to find the Princess, he has all the maidens in the kingdom come try on a ring, and the phallic implications are clear.

  • Donkey Skin is not just a challenge to fairy-tale traditions; Demy also uses it to build on the experimental fantasy work of Cocteau and his own previous films. The saturated colors and the operetta-like features of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), which make of the provincial town an unreal, magical space of love, anticipate Demy’s use of color and the marvelous in Donkey Skin.

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