Saturday 6 June 2009

Review: El Pallasso i el Führer

El Pallasso i el Führer (2007)
directed by Eduard Cortés

I confess to only having seen a little less than an hour of this film. Firstly, I chanced upon it on TV last night, so missed the beginning, and secondly, tedium got the better of me and I switched off before it finished dragging itself towards the end. In my view, that doesn’t disqualify me from reviewing the film, however.

As a clown and a clown historian, I should have been delighted to be contemplating a film based on a historical occurence of Charlie Rivel’s performance for the Fuhrer on his birthday but, alas! no.

First there is the astounding fact that it was broadcast in a dubbed-to-Spanish version, the original being in Catalan. I was watching in Catalonia: why wasn’t it broadcast in the original version? Is it really so hard for the poor Spanish public to do a tiny bit of work and read some subtitles? Not even when the original language is one that is official in the country and not really so difficult to get the gist of even if you don’t know it. And so, as with all dubbed films, the atmosphere evaporates, and in this case a heaviness takes over which is exacerbated by the denseness of the dialogue, a text which never for one second escapes from a turgid literariness.

Ferran Rañé‘s protrayal of Rivel bears some likeness to the man himself in his bearing and manner. He’s obviously watched his appearance in Fellini’s “I Clowns” and done a fair imitation, although that’s as far as it goes and it can’t be called a full characterisation. But when it comes to the scenes where he is called upon to actually perform as a clown, he unfortunately joins the rest of the cast in an embarrassing parody of what actors might think clowns do. A very disappointing film indeed.

Friday 5 June 2009

Clown Quotations

Today I'm making a (slow) start on compiling a list of clown quotations. Slow, because I'm feeling a bit lazy and can't be bothered to go searching all my notes and books for bits of wisdom. But never mind, I will add to the list as I go along. All suggestions greatly received!

What makes a good clown quotation? Firstly, it's better if a clown said it. And if not a clown then someone professionally close to the clown's world. Secondly, it's better if it surprises us and illuminates us, just as the performance of a clown is intended to do. It's no good keeping on repeating the same old material, it gets tired very quickly. So, no platitudes!

"When you stand there doing nothing and it's funny, that's repose" (Johnny Carson)

"Clowns are pegs, used to hang circuses on." (Phineas T. Barnum)

“I was born a clown. I’ve never felt comfortable as a woman.” (Annie Fratellini)

“To that eternal naïve question reporters are for ever shouting at me: ‘Why did you become a clown?’ I have only one reply. ‘Because I wanted to.’” (Grock)