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Donkey Skin (1970)

Georges Adet , Annick Berger , Jacques Demy  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Donkey Skin + Beauty and The Beast (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Georges Adet, Annick Berger, Romain Bouteille, Louise Chevalier, Sylvain Corthay
  • Directors: Jacques Demy
  • Writers: Jacques Demy, Charles Perrault
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Original recording remastered, Restored, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • DVD Release Date: May 10, 2005
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007VY472
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,429 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Donkey Skin" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Jacques Demy’s ode to the classic fairy tale by 17th Century author Charles Perrault (Cinderella) comes to life with breathtaking brilliance. Digitally restored and re-mastered under the supervision of Agnès Varda (The Gleaners and I), this epic tale overflows with dazzling color, elaborate costumes and an enchanting score by Academy Award®-winning composer Michel Legrand (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg). Catherine Deneuve (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Indochine) stars as a Princess whose father, the King (Jean Marais), seeks her hand in marriage after promising his dying wife to only wed a woman more beautiful than she. Listening to her godmother, the Fairy of Lilacs (Delphine Seyrig), the frightened Princess flees to a neighboring farm and hides as a scullery maid, while wearing the skin of her father’s prized donkey as a disguise. A visiting Prince passes by, and an unlikely romance is born.

Donkey Skin reunites Catherine Deneuve with Jacques Demy and Michel Legrand, yet it's quite unlike The Umbrellas of Cherbourg or The Young Girls of Rochefort. Those 1960s musicals were set in some semblance of the modern world, but Donkey Skin, based on a fable by Charles Perrault, takes place in a fantastical fairyland, located somewhere between The Wizard of Oz and La Belle et la Bête. Jean Marais, Jean Cocteau’s Beast, is even the king of the kingdom. Alas, he's just lost his queen (Deneuve), whose dying wish is that he marry a woman more beautiful than she. Deranged by loss, he decides on his daughter (Deneuve again). She's horrified--her fairy godmother (Delphine Seyrig), as well, so she devises a plan for the princess to flee, hidden by a donkey skin. Strange by any standards, Donkey Skin is one of the more magical musicals to emerge from the 1970s. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-Have Fairy Tale Movie June 25, 2005
I saw that movie many times when I was growing up in France. It is part of this special set of "comfort" movies that everybody who grew up in France has probably seen many times as well... these special movies would be shown on french TV at and around Christmas. If you are interested in better understanding the french culture, you must see it, independently of its artistic merit (even though it is pretty high, in my opinion). Moreover, Catherine Deneuve is the most beloved/respected person in France (and the coolest thing about her is that she is still human, flawed, aware of it, and eminently approachable). Ebert is right when he says that she is ageless. The baking scene is a classic and the turning point in the movie. By the way, other "comfort" movies include the 5-DVD boxed set of Angélique adventures, recently released by RusCiCo (every french boy was in love with Michèle Mercier), any comedy by Louis de Funès (the epitome of french comedy for the whole family), and so forth. These are fantastic movies to be truly enjoyed, so I failed to understand the criticism of some about the fact that this or that scene would not be "believable".
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bright and colorful fairy tale musical August 17, 2005
By Kuru
This is a 90-minute fairy tale, filmed in brilliant colors (lots of primary reds and blues) using famous Loire chateaux as backgrounds. Unlike Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, the entire screenplay is not sung -- this is a more conventional musical with songs and spoken dialogue. The subtitles are easy to read and accurate. The transfer to DVD is excellent. This is the sort of film one can watch more than once, if only to enjoy the rich visual detail.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hard to shake off September 6, 2005
It does not matter how old you are. I saw it last month and I'm I'm a mature adult.

It's in French, but that did little to prevent me from seeing it three times, and the songs have since not left my head - every day, when I go into my kitchen, I hear the song Catherine sang when baking the cake for the prince.

Because it's a musical and the scenes are supplimented by music, it tends offer you additional triggers to recall scenes from the movies during the course of any given day.

Must see! A true work of art. I'm shamefully hooked, as it was probably meant for children, but I have a feeling adults will get more out of it than kids.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Original June 8, 2005
Jacques Demy made musical films like no one else. I've waited for years to see this movie released on DVD and I can't believe it's finally out. Catherine Deneuve and Jacques Perrin make the perfect romantic couple and they play their roles with a sense of humor. Once again Michel Legrand provides a lovely score with witty lyrics by Demy.The film costars Delphine Seyrig (who was featured in several key French films such as Stolen Kisses and Last Year at Marienbad) and Jean Marais who starred in Beauty and Beast. This is the perfect film to watch after Demy's The Young Girls of Rochefort and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memories of an American Boy in France November 15, 2006
You have to be able to give yourself to a movie without really understanding it, to appreciate the beautiful qualities of Jacques Demy's PEAU D'ANE. So much of the story doesn't make any sense to American viewers. Why, for example, does the Prince sham illness in order to get "Donkey Skin" to bake him a cake? He knows who she is, why doesn't he just go for it. Why go through the rigmarole of getting every woman in the kingdom to try on the ring? How does he know that only Catherine Deneuve would be able to wear the ring? What if he got someone else instead? (We see a cute reaction shot when a very young princess, maybe 4 or 5 years old, tries on the ring and it's way too big for her.)

Growing up in France, commercial TV played this movie every Christmas, just the way that here in the USA they were showing "It's a Wonderful Life." For us American children trapped in Paris at Christmastime, there was one great treat, a showing of "Peau D'Ane" every year to look forward to (this was in the days before DVDS and even VHS.) You'll see the special cake that Catherine Deneuve makes with her dirty twin, and you'll wonder why she makes such a flat cake for the prince--it's a visual reminder of our special Christmas cake, the "galette," round and flat, into which a shoe, a baby or other toy has been inserted. We would have a "buche de Noel" every year, always a cause for general applause. (The Princess slips a golden ring into the cake, and Prince Charming nearly chokes to death on it!) In many ways Demy puts in references to our charming French Christmas traditions. We would stay up late and have a midnight dinner the French servants called, the "Reveillon," an enormous feast with chickens, geese, sausage and sometimes quail.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully wicked May 20, 2005
I grew up in France with the story of "Peau d'Ane" as one of my favorite fairy tales. I would watch the movie on French TV every Christmas and over and over once we got a VCR. I adored it (without really understanding its mischeveous sense of humor and situations!). The songs, Catherine Deneuve in the sun dress, the blue and red horses, Jean Marais as the handsome father... Everything in this movie is so typically "Jacques Demy"... It's like a beautiful and weird dream! It's no Disney for sure!!

Even years later this movie still enchants me.

It's also a great movie to get kids used to subtitled movies.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Gift for my friend!!
Ordered this DVD for one of my very close friends, who had mentioned in passing that she loved this move as a child and could never find it any where. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Debra A. Parikh
5.0 out of 5 stars A 70's fairy tale
I bougth the flick mostly for the memories, but ended enjoying it like 40 years ago. Transfer and music are great!
Published 12 months ago by Renzo Strada
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely charming
I had seen this movie decades ago and had forgotten all about it. Recently I began to think about it and wondered if I saw it again, would I find it as enchanting as I did when I... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Anita
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Movie
I found this at the library a few years ago and kept checking it out. Glad I could find it online and finally own it. Beautiful and cheese-ball. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Kisua
5.0 out of 5 stars I watched it maybe 60 times in the last 3 months!!!!
OK... Unlike most of the reviewers i have read from so far, I am not from France or french in anyway. Just came across this movie at a video store like about last year. Read more
Published on August 27, 2011 by Dassan
5.0 out of 5 stars Good fairytale
I love this film. It is a great funky fairytale with the beautiful Catherine Deneuve and Jean Marais. Read more
Published on June 28, 2010 by daylyreader
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange but Lovely
I'd forgotten just how strange this fairytale is. But it's also beautiful to look at, well, besides the inside of the donkey skin and the woman speaking frogs. Read more
Published on November 24, 2008 by Rebecca Pierce
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Musical Fairy Tale
Catherine Deneuve's re-teaming with director Jacques Demy and composer Michel Legrand is not as charming or memorable as their previous musicals (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, their... Read more
Published on March 29, 2006 by Kardius
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible fairy tale.
The production values and plot are terrible.

I know you're supposed to suspend your disbelief when watching a fairy tale, but this takes the cake. Read more
Published on November 15, 2005 by S. Yip
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