J wanted to see the Illusionist. I didn't know anything about it except she told me it was animated. I noticed the name Jacques Tati in the opening credits, and later when the Illusionist stumbles into a movie theater, My Uncle is playing.
I remember my dad taking me to see My Uncle and then Mr. Hulot's Vacation. It must have been when they came out in the mid-50's. Even though they were in French, they left enough of an impression on me that I still remember seeing the movies and the bumbling Mr. Hulot.
The Illusionist is a very melancholy story. The illustrations are beautiful - the scenes when he first gets into rural Scotland reminded me of the mountains portrayed in Paxon Woelbers The Prospector.
Here's an interview dubbed in German with the director Sylvain Chomet, who directed The Triplets of Belview, that has a number of shots from the movie.
Thanks to Lee Roy at Sketchbook where I found the YouTube video.
The movie tells a sad story that makes me want to know happened to Jacques Tati that is coming out in this movie. And so, I had to start looking things up.
Here's what I learned:
Wikipedia's Jacques Tati page has an explanation that works just right for me:
The Illusionist (2010) is an animated film based on an unproduced, semi-autobiographical script that Tati wrote in 1956. Directed by Sylvain Chomet, known for The Triplets of Belleville, the main character is an animated caricature of Tati himself. . .
Between 1940 and 1942 he presented his Sporting Impressions at the original Lido de Paris . There he met the dancer Herta Schiel, who fled Austria with her sister Molly at the time of the Anschluss. In the summer of 1942, Herta gave birth to their daughter, Helga Marie-Jeanne Schiel. Following the pressure of his sister Nathalie Tatischeff, he refused to recognize the child and abandoned the mother and his first child.For those of you who know history, you'll recognize that this was during WW II which began in late 1939. Wikipedia gives a bit of explanation why this young man wasn't fighting:
In September 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War Tati was conscripted into the 16th Regiment of Dragoons. Placed into a new unit, he fought in the Battle on the Meuse in May 1940. Tati ended up in Dordogne, where he was demobilized.The Wikipedia article also tells us:
Controversy has dogged The Illusionist. The Guardian reports,
The movie now makes sense - why it is so overbearingly sad. It's Tati talking to his long lost baby girl and telling her there is no magic. (Tati died in 1982)In 2000, the screenplay was handed over to Chomet by Tati's daughter, Sophie, two years before her death. Now, however, the family of Tati's illegitimate and estranged eldest child, Helga Marie-Jeanne Schiel, who lives in the north-east of England, are calling for the French director to give her credit as the true inspiration for the film. The script of L'illusionniste, they say, was Tati's response to the shame of having abandoned his first child [Schiel] and it remains the only public recognition of her existence. They accuse Chomet of attempting to airbrush out their painful family legacy again.
The movie got slow toward the end and we needed that brief walk out in the moonlight after that movie. But the movie will stick. And now that I have a sense of what was behind it, it's very powerful.