Peau d'âne

Jacques Demy, France, 1961

Comment

Jacques Demy’s Peau d’âne is based on a traditional fairy tale. Fairy tales take place in worlds that aren’t quite reality.  In the real world colours are often mixed and are rarely separated or purely one colour. In the first shot we see a rainbow above the medieval bedside table of the prince.  Above the royal throne we see another even bigger, even clearer rainbow.   A rainbow is composed of distinct bands of colour, which, in normality are usually mixed together in objects.
This is one of the reasons that drew Demis to the universe of fairy tales, in that it allowed him to separate colours and use them as he wished on screen.  In the shot of the Prince’s bed he eliminated all the other colours, aside from those in the framed picture, to mark the red of the bed and the costumes of the Prince and his mother.  Similarly, in the shot of the musicians, who are all clothed in red or pink.  Then comes the dance sequence where Demy placed his characters in hats like splashes of colours in blues, reds, greens and yellows throughout the scene.   He uses the dance to move the colours around, yet keep them separate just like in a rainbow.

Keywords

chromatic play.