search

The Illusionist

Part of Animation Appreciation Week

The Illusionist

"The Illusionist" represents the magically melancholy final act of Jacques Tati's career. Tati, of course, was the tall Frenchman, bowing from the waist, pipe in mouth, often wearing a trench coat, pants too short, always the center of befuddlements. If you've seen "Mr. Hulot's Holiday" you know who he was, and if you haven't, it belongs on your must-see list.

Tati, who died in 1982, wrote the screenplay for this film but never made it. He intended it for live action. As the story goes, his daughter Sophie Tatischeff still had the script and handed it to Sylvain Chomet, who made the miraculously funny animated film "The Triplets of Belleville" (2003). Chomet has drawn it with a lightness and beauty worthy of an older, sadder Miyazaki story. Animation suits it. Live action would overwhelm its delicate fancy with realism.

If you recall the opening scenes of "Up," you know that animation is sometimes more effective than live action for conveying the arc of a life. This magician does what he does very well, but there's no longer a purpose for him. Did Tati feel the same when he wrote this in the 1950s, before "Hulot" was a worldwide success? Important to the charm of "The Illusionist" is the grace with which the character of Tatischeff has been drawn. He looks like Tati, but much more important, he has the inimitable body language. The polite formality, the deliberate movement, the hesitation, the diffidence. His world is an illusion, which he produces nightly from a hat.

After "The Illusionist" played at Cannes 2010, I received a letter from his middle grandson, Richard Tatischeff Schiel McDonald, telling me that the Chomet version "greatly undermines both the artistry of my grandfather's original script whilst shamefully ignoring the deeply troubled personal story that lies at its heart."

Briefly, he writes, Tati "in the script wrestles with the notion of publicly acknowledging his eldest daughter, my mother, who he had under duress from his elder sister, heartlessly abandoned during the Second World War." It is a fraught family story.

Becoming aware of these facts, and how they were apparently sublimated in Tati's more fanciful tale, only adds interest to "The Illusionist." However the film stands on its own, and however much it conceals the real-life events that inspired it, it lives and breathes on its own, and as an extension of the mysterious whimsy of Tati.

— Roger Ebert

The Illusionist

Sat April 29, 7:30 PM, Muenzinger Auditorium

France, United Kingdom; 2010; in French, Gaelic, English; 80 min, 35mm • official site

Original Story: Jacques Tati, Screenstory: Jacques Tati, Original Film Writer: Jacques Tati, Screenplay: Sylvain Chomet, Director: Sylvain Chomet, Adaptation: Sylvain Chomet, Cast: Jean-Claude Donda, Eilidh Rankin, Didier Gustin, Jil Aigrot, Jacques Tati

remind me save to calendar recommend

Tickets

10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.

Parking

Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.

RTD Bus

Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

C.U. Film Program

(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

Thank you, sponsors!
Boulder International Film Festival
Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Looking for a gift for a friend?
Buy a Frequent Patron Punch Card for $60 at any IFS show. With the punch card you can see ten films (a value of $90).

Virtual titles to stream from home

Cox & Kjølseth
: Filmmaker Alex Cox & Pablo Kjølseth discuss film topics from their own unique perspectives.

Z-briefs
: Pablo and Ana share Zoom-based briefs on what's currently playing at IFS

Sprocket Damage
: Sprocket Damage digs deep(ish) into current and classic films and film-related subjects to bring to you insightful, humorous, and enlightening perspectives on the industry.

Search IFS schedules

Index of visiting artists

Thu Feb 16, 2023

They Came Together

At Muenzinger Auditorium

Fri Mar 17, 2023

Death to Smoochy

At Muenzinger Auditorium

more on 35mm...