- 1 hr 29 min
Parade is a unique film experience sitting at the crossroads of cinema and live performance art. Directed by and starring the renowned French filmmaker and actor Jacques Tati, this 1974 gem is a celebration of spectacle, a tribute to performers, and a film that blurs the lines between the staged show and the cinematic narrative. Joining Tati in this cinematic endeavor are performers Karl Kossmayer and Pierre Bramma, among a plethora of international artists and entertainers.
The film, set primarily in and around a circus tent, is not a conventional narrative with a well-defined plot and character arcs but is rather a series of sketches, pantomimes, and acts that hark back to old-fashioned circus performances and vaudeville shows. With Tati at the helm, the film forgoes intricate storylines for the beauty and humor found in life's simple moments, a thematic throughline present in much of Tati's work.
In Parade, Tati himself takes on the role of the master of ceremonies. He's the linchpin of the performance, guiding the audience through a medley of acts that range from the amusing to the astonishing. He often participates in these acts, showcasing his own talents, which are crowned with his undeniable mime abilities, an art form at which he is a maestro.
The film features a multitude of acts that echo the vibes of a bygone era when the circus and live performance were primary sources of entertainment. A diverse set of performers fill the screen including jugglers, acrobats, magicians, clowns, and musicians. Each act is distinct, yet they all share a collective aim to mesmerize and entertain the audience that has gathered in the 'big top'.
Karl Kossmayer stands out with his unique talent, seamlessly blending into this tapestry of performers. He, along with Pierre Bramma; contribute to the film's multi-faceted portrayal of entertainers, both shining in their respective moments – whether they offer subtle gestures or high-energy feats.
Production-wise, Parade breaks the fourth wall by showing not just performances but also the audience's reactions. The camera often pans to the faces of the children and adults watching, capturing their laughter, surprise, and joy. These candid shots of the crowd add an additional layer of authenticity to the film, merging real-life reactions with staged events, and allowing audiences to connect with both the performers and their spectators.
The visual language of Parade is compelling. True to Tati's style, the mise-en-scène is meticulously crafted. The camera work is fluid and clever; it often involves a subtle choreography that plays with perspective and scale to enhance the comedic effect of certain acts or the awe of others. The color palette is vibrant but never overwhelming, designed to draw the eye and keep the viewer engaged without relying on rapid cuts or flashy editing techniques so common in modern films.
Tati's affection for technology and its impact on society features in faint brushstrokes in Parade as well. Unlike his other works that heavily feature this theme, such as in "Playtime," in Parade, there are hints of how modernity intersects with the traditional world of circus entertainment.
Sound in Parade is used strategically. Rather than overwhelming with a constant barrage of music and noise, Tati employs sound to underscore the performances, at times allowing the natural noise of the audience and the simple sounds of the acts to speak for themselves. It's a subtle move that plays well into the film's organic feel and nostalgic charm.
There's something ineffably warm and human about Parade, it isn't simply a rundown of circus acts but a window into the passions that fuel performers. The joy they derive from their craft and the connections they forge with their audience are palpable throughout the film. Tati's genius lies in his ability to convert these ephemeral experiences into cinematic moments, forming a parade of vignettes that resonate with the soul of entertainment.
To watch Parade is to step into a realm where the distinction between movie and reality fades, where the laughter of the children and the clapping of hands are as integral to the experience as the stepping of the mime or the trick of the magician. It's a piece that defies categorization, opting instead to exist in its own niche — a lovingly produced love letter to the world of live performance, captured through the lens of a cinema camera.
This film stands out in Tati’s filmography as it is both a departure and a reaffirmation of his artistic sensibilities. By stripping down to the basics of performance, he allows the audience to relish in the universal language of amusement and spectacle, a message that, much like a joyous parade, is timeless and borderless.
Parade is a 1974 kids & family movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 29 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.0.