Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rupture (1961) Premio Jean Mitry - Pierre Étaix in Pordenone - Award Ceremony

FR 1961. PC: C.A.P.A.C. D: Pierre Étaix, Jean-Claude Carrière; P: Paul Claudon; M: Jean Paillaud; DP: Pierre Levent, asst. Jean-Jacques Flori; ED: Léonide Azar, asst. Madeleine Bibollet; S: Jean Nény; C: Pierre Étaix, Anne-Marie Royer, Anny Nelsen; 35 mm, 376 m, 13' (24 fps), sd., no dialogue; print source: Fondation Technicolor pour le Patrimoine  du Cinéma / Fondation Groupama Gan pour le Cinéma, Paris. Restoration: Studio 37, Fondation Technicolor pour le Patrimoine du Cinéma, Fondation Groupama Gan pour le Cinéma. Teatro Verdi, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone (Premio Jean Mitry), 13 Oct 2012.

David Robinson: "To mark the presentation of the 2012 Jean Mitry Award to Pierre Étaix – in his dual role as a master of silent comedy and as restorer of his own oeuvre – the Giornate is screening his first comedy short, cowritten and co-directed with another screen debutant of 1961, Jean-Claude Carrière. Born in 1928, Étaix left his native Roanne to work in Paris as an illustrator and in time solo performer in cabaret, music hall, and circus, where he partnered the clown Nino Fabbri. In 1954 he met Jacques Tati, with whom he was to work for four years as artist, gagman, and assistant director on Mon Oncle, in which he makes an uncredited appearance. Working with Tati he collaborated with the young writer Jean-Claude Carrière on novelizations of Les Vacances de M. Hulot and Mon Oncle, written by Carrière and illustrated by Étaix. The two found an instant rapport and embarked together on their first film venture, Rupture. Their second collaboration, Heureux Anniversaire (1962), won both the 1963 Oscar and the BAFTA award for Best Short Film."

"Their partnership as actor-director and writer continued at the same time as Carrière embarked on his historic collaboration with Luis Buñuel (he was also to work, inter alia, with Forman, Malle, Wajda, Brook, and Schlöndorff); together they made the features Le Soupirant (1962), Yoyo (1965), Tant qu’on a la santé (1966), and Le Grand Amour (1969), in which Étaix was partnered by his first wife, Annie Fratellini (1932-1997), who came from a great circus dynasty to become France’s first female clown and the founder, with Étaix, of the country’s first circus school. With their sparse use of dialogue, the films were a miraculous revival of the art of silent comedy. They were all festival favourites and hugely popular with critics as with  audiences. Étaix was seen by many as the peer of his first master Tati."

"Then abruptly, after a fifth feature, Pays de Cocagne (1971), both Étaix and his films virtually disappeared from the screen. Later it emerged that through some improvident contractual deal he had lost control of the rights, and the eventual owner chose to suppress the films. Étaix returned to live clowning, and wrote many books; but two generations of cinephiles were not even aware of the name of this great master of silent comedy. It was a unique and tragic phenomenon of film history. But it was to have a late happy ending. In the early years of this century, the rights situation was resolved, as Pierre Étaix secured the support of Fondation Groupama Gan pour le Cinéma and Fondation Technicolor pour le Patrimoine du Cinéma. The film material had been badly kept over four decades, and the Fondations undertook the restoration of the films, in collaboration with Studio 37 and with constant consultation with Étaix himself. The result – five features and three shorts – were finally issued on DVD in 2010, with a sensitive and revealing documentary on the filmmaker by his wife, Odile Étaix."

"Rupture is undated after more than half a century (apart from depicting such extinct usages as pen-and-ink) and faultless. The comedy is purely visual, only enhanced by Jean Paillaud’s score and the witty sound effects. Though Étaix’s lean and handsome face and self-absorption inevitably invite comparisons with Keaton, they are irrelevant: Étaix is himself and unique, as he battles, brave and alone, with the hazards that afflict this universe, like road-crossings, ink, pen nibs, love, postage stamps, coat hangers, death, non-adhering envelope flaps, rocking chairs, and the force of gravity." – DAVID ROBINSON

AA: A speechless pantomime about separation: the man receives a letter from his girlfriend terminating their relationship, and thoroughly shattered, he proceeds to answer, tearing her girlfriend's photograph apart. There is a shock ending. The movie takes mostly place in one room, and it is an account about the man's fight with objects such as a fountain pen and ink. The film has been recently restored, and the print is good.

Live on stage Pierre Étaix was in good form giving a silent comic acceptance speech for his Jean Mitry Award. First he gave the impression that he had forgotten what to say. Then he took a paper out of his pocket but could not extend his arm long enough to see. Finally he put his glasses on, only to discover that the paper was empty.

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