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Directed by Jacques Tati
Produced in 1974
Main Language - French with English subtitles
Tati's final film is his first new DVD release in over 4 years. Graeme Hobbs takes a ringside seat.
‘What you are going to see is not a film; it is a spectacle whose aim is to break the ice between the screen and the audience’ said Tati of his circus-set final feature, ‘in my show, nobody knows who the juggler is, the painter, the spectator, the artist; who is the clown and who isn’t’.
Indeed, Parade – Tati’s final feature – is shot through with his comic enterprise to ‘democratise the gag’. It’s a carnival of jugglers, yodellers, duff tricks and early 70s fashion, playing children, cossack dancers, an oompah band and blink-and-you’ll-miss-them visual jokes. As the audience enters, a decorator backstage paints a flower in a lion's mouth, and Tati cuts to the same flower on a woman's dress. Later, a props man puts a ‘professional’ magician to shame, with their own duel disrupted by a member of the audience who turns a few neat tricks of his own. To the consternation of his wife, a suited man jumps out of the audience to ride a bucking mule, while a toddler with red and white stripy tights enters a door to applause from inside. Tati is then shown wearing the same colour socks as he performs his impressions sportives – the mime acts with which he began his career. If you are new to Tati, Parade is not the place to start, but if his comic world is familiar, then this knowledge will enrich the film, and also make it more poignant.
The title of Tati's unrealised satire about television – Confusion – is an accurate description of the background to Parade. Made for Swedish TV to repay the debt Tati owed them after they had enabled the completion of Trafic, it was filmed – partly framed for 1.33:1, partly for 1.66:1 – on video, 16mm and 35mm, in Stockholm in 1971, 1973, (also in Paris that year), and again in 1974, by which time the child actors had aged noticeably. It’s a wonder Tati came up with anything at all cohesive by the end of this, let alone something so celebratory. At the end, he simply hands the ring over to two young children who are left to play with the props, while atop the circus building, a prancing horse, similar to that which trundled in on the merry-go-round 25 years earlier in Jour de Fête, holds our gaze.
Graeme Hobbs on 29th May 2009
Author of 276 reviews
Jacques Tati's last film sees his return to the boisterous music hall world in which he began his career as a mime artist in the 1930s. Conceived as a series of circus acts hosted by Tati and performed for a family audience, Parade is a brilliantly conceived spectacle which blurs all distinctions between performers and audience, accomplished acrobats and children at play. Offering gloriously funny visual gags that flow beautifully from one act to another – including several of his most famous pantomimes – Parade is the perfect final stage for Tati’s comic genius.
Length: 84 mins
Cat No: BFIVD808
Format: DVD Colour
- Rare interview with Tati, filmed in London 1977 (20 mins)
- Illustrated booklet with essays by Philip Kemp and Jonathan Rosenbaum.
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