Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Jour de Fete

1949 - Dir: Jaques Tati
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 28th February, 2009
There's no one quite like Jacques Tati, a meticulous and innovative comic genius whose work grows from an acute but benevolent observation of humanity. He made only five feature films but as writer, director, and star of each of them he developed new techniques of filmmaking. Tati characterised his humour as "laughter born of a certain fundamental absurdity". “Jour de Fete” was Tati's first feature and is built upon his short “L'ecole des Facteurs”. This is truly international humour, very visual in style, with a minimal plot in which music, sound effects and speech are used only as embellishments. Tati the actor is lanky and awkward with all the skill of the great silent comedians to command the screen. The timing and sheer cleverness of the gags is breathtaking. But, above all, this film is supremely good-natured. We can laugh at the idiocies and embarrassment of Francois and his fellow villagers, but only because we recognise ourselves in them.
TECHNICAL NOTE: This film is shown in colour - as Tati intended. The prologue will explain what happened. You may like to know that the painstaking restoration took six years. We can only suppose that this is what Thomson Color would have looked like but it does appear to be a sort of tinted black and white. Tati was so frustrated by the failure of the original colour shoot that he resorted to hand tinting parts of the black and white negative for a re-release in the 1960s. He died in 1982 and never saw the film in colour - so we can’t be sure that this is what he really wanted.

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