DVD - 2014 | French
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The director himself serves as master of ceremonies at a circus. Focusing on the spectators, this stripped down work is a testament to the communion betwen audience and entertainment.
Publisher: [United States] : The Criterion Collection, [2014]
Edition: DVD edition
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9781604659177
Branch Call Number: FRE MOVIE PAR
Characteristics: video file,DVD video,region 1,rda
2 videodiscs (89 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in
Additional Contributors: Tati, Jacques


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Radharc Oct 26, 2016

I found this film, Tat's final feature-length effort, to be somewhat of a letdown. In this made-for-television film, Tati assumes the role of ringmaster of a circus, and there are the usual sight-gags as expected in his work. The circus acts themselves are a bit uneven, and the fact that Tati shot the film on a variety of media makes for a curious visual experience. if you are a fan of his work, by all means watch it. if you are new to his movies, don't start with this one!

Jun 23, 2015

I've never been to the circus and have no intentions of changing that. Jacques Tati's final film, Parade gives the viewer the experience of going to the circus, showing both the spectacles on stage and the relationships between the audience members. More like a documentary that an actual movie, this slight, made-for-TV, Swedish experiment is most unlike Tati's other films. The main commonality is in how flat and unamusing the visual gags come across as.

I’m in the minority when it comes to Tati. His slapstick routine has always left me scratching my head, trying to understand what others see in his humour. That said, Parade isn't entirely devoid of laughter. In the first few minutes there's a shot of a female audience member gesturing for the man in front of her to remove his hat, as it's blocking her view of the stage. He obliges, only to reveal a head of hair as obstructive as his hat. It's one of the few visual gags we see outside of the actual performance, but undoubtedly the funniest. Otherwise, the jokes are embedded into the circus act, which definitely seems like you had to be there to enjoy it. It doesn’t help the audience is constantly laughing, making us feel somewhat awkward.

One way Tati deviates from his more story-based films is in abandoning the unsuccessful cultural commentaries that plague his earlier films. Mon Oncle, Playtime, and Trafic are all obsessed with pointing out the absurdity of modern technology. But Tati never seemed to find an effective method of communicating his ideas and being critical didn’t seem to suit the jovial heart of his approach to cinema. Parade doesn’t have much of an agenda and isn’t concerned with critiquing society. It’s built on charm and an upbeat mood. It’s a film that just wants you to sit back and enjoy. While certainly less ambitious than Playtime (Tati at his most determined), Parade manages to find joy in little moments.

The acts themselves vary in quality. There are some creative moments, such as two specific musical numbers. One is performed with hammers, another with a man inflating and deflating a balloon to capture the sounds. The other musical numbers drag for far too long, as does a segment where audience members are invited on stage to attempt to ride a mule. It would've been cute had it not been extended for ten minutes. Otherwise, Parade features some of the most impressive juggling I've ever seen and some solid miming from Tati himself (who plays the circus leader).

Gunnar Fischer, whose camera is responsible for all of the iconic images in Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries works as Tati’s director of photography here. His skill as a cinematographer is hardly visible on the set of Parade, aside from the occasional impressive shot against the plain grayish background of the stage. Parade has a very flat feel, and could’ve benefited from some sharper images.

A film can easily be fun but not funny. Parade ’s cheerful attitude is infectious. I was grinning throughout, but never once did I chuckle. That’s more than can be said for plenty of Tati’s older films, such as the monotonous and humourless Mr. Hulot’s Holiday. Parade oozes with charm, and while it doesn’t come close to being good, it manages to barely stay afloat.

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