13 February 11
Numenius and I walked the five miles into town and back yesterday to see The Ilusionist, one of the three animation films nominated for an Oscar this year. It probably won’t get one because the Academy is so very safe and the Toy Story triology is over and will be hard for them to pass up, but you should go if you get the chance.
Jacques Tati wrote the screenplay in the late 50s. His daughter gave it to Sylvain Chomet after he’d asked her for permission to show a clip of Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot in The Triplets of Belleville/Belleville Rendezvous. The resulting animated film is like having another — another! — Tati film come to life. He’s right there, exquisitely drawn, every expression and gawky crumple-from-the-middle impossibly perfect. There’s a scene in which the magician bumbles into a theatre playing Tati in Mon Oncle, leaving, not quite leaving, finally walking through a gate; it’s his cue to depart, leaving the young Shetland islander-turned Edinburgh beauty he’d been a father-figure to behind in the arms of the future — television and rock-and-roll. It’s the most loving story of loss and, well, passing.
If this film weren’t so heartwrenching I’d go back today. Actually, I’d watch all of Tati first and then go — I caught some of the references but lost many more, doubtless, and part of what makes this so painful is that my father was such a Tati fan. What I definitely want to do is listen to the final song (written, as was the entire score, by Chomet himself) — this film is almost devoid of dialogue and lots of clues are to be found in the lyrics, but I didn’t catch them all.