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Film / Parade 1974

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Parade is a 1974 film by Jacques Tati.

It does not have a story, but instead is a filmed performance of a circus. The circus has many of the acts one might expect to find in an indoor stage circus, like jugglers, a magician, a singer, and acrobats. Appearing as himself (apparently) is Jacques Tati, who is master of ceremonies for the circus, and also does some of the mime performances that first made him a star in the 1930s: a fisherman who struggles with his catch, a boxer who is overmatched, a soccer goalie, and others.

Jacques Tati's last feature film. This film was originally made for Swedish television but received a limited theatrical release in France.


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Tropes:

  • Art Shift: The film was cobbled together from footage shot on video tape (the majority of the film), 16mm, and 35mm. There are occasionally some jarring contrasts between the videotaped footage of the audience and filmed footage of some of the bigger acts. (Tati had almost no money to work with by this time, and the budget limitations in this videotaped circus performance are obvious.)
  • Call-Back: The big number at the end features the return of most of the acts in the show—the jugglers, the folks that made music by hammering paint cans, and more.
  • Circus Episode: A live performance of a circus on an indoor stage.
  • Concert Film: A circus performance instead of a concert, but the same principle of a filmed stage show.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: One sequence has some of the set painters playing music by whacking paint cans with hammers. Another, even more extraordinary sequence has a man play a recognizable tune by controlling the squeak of air venting out of a blow-up balloon.
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  • Manipulative Editing: Some of the big musical numbers were clearly recorded elsewhere and spliced into the film.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: Just about the only place where a clown can be non-ironic, namely, an actual circus. They do the typical tricks and pratfalls one might expect of a clown.
  • Pantomime: Before getting into film Tati did mime routines on stage in France and he repeats them here. Among the things he mimes are a soccer goalie, a horseback rider, and a tennis player in a match. The tennis player sketch kicks it up a notch when Tati mimes slow motion sports replay.
  • "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: The film ends with the camera panning up from the front door of the theatre to the roof and the statue on top.
  • Silence Is Golden: Like most of Tati's films, there is little dialogue. In this case just about the only dialogue is the stage patter that Tati delivers at the start of the show and when introducing acts.
  • Slapstick: It's a circus so there will be some of this. One sequence features a comedy music trio of guitarist, violinist, and cellist, and how they keep bumbling, getting each others' bows confused, getting their fingers stuck in their instruments.
  • Stage Magician: One long routine has a stage magician, complete with top hat and cape, getting repeatedly upstaged by a set painter who comes onstage and does magic tricks of his own. Then they both get upstaged by a man in the audience.
  • Stylistic Suck: The rock band that plays in the latter portion of the film is terrible, but they're supposed to be, as the real point of the sketch is physical comedy involving the lead singer trying to grab a floating microphone.
  • Title Drop
    • Tati closes his opening remarks to the audience by saying "We're all gathered around the ring of Parade!"
    • Near the end Tati introduces a French singer, the very Edith Piaf-esque Pia Colombo, who sings a theme song for the movie.
    "And you audience / behold the splendor / such color and music / thrilling masquerade / world of fantasy / here comes the parade!
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