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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Au Revoir Monsieur Grock (1950)

Grock in 1903
(source: wikimedia)
no copyright infringement intended

The genius of clowning is transforming the little, everyday annoyances, not only overcoming, but actually transforming them into something strange and terrific. It is the power to extract mirth for millions out of nothing and less than nothing.

A French movie from 1950, it came to Bucharest sometime in the second half of the fifties. I was eleven or twelve and I liked it. Clowns always speak the language of children. Plus it was a French movie, with that special flavor only French movies from that epoch were having. It's more to say on this, about the epoch, and about the flavor, maybe some other time I'll try to do it. Add to this I was a Parisian by birth, and any French movie was for me a window open there. Meaning also a bit of nostalgia.

Grock (1880-1959) had been a famous clown of the first half of the last century. Born in Switzerland, speaking several languages, familiar with any conceivable musical instrument, adored by kids from Berlin to Paris to Madrid to London, with a very long career, the king of the clowns. And I remained with the memory of this movie about him. Not all details of course, most of them got erased throughout the years, but one scene at the end  never left my film universe. It's the last performance of the great clown, he is saying goodbye to the public, and an old friend approaches him, my boy wants to become a clown, please tell him not to do that. Grock takes the boy aside, parents never understand, look, I leave today the world of circus, and it's marvelous. I'll give it to you.

It was a movie I would have liked to watch it again sometime. I did it today. A movie that you enjoyed in your childhood is an old friend, who never betrays you, who's always faithful to you, and who keeps a full bag of memories from long time ago. Of course, I could see now that this movie is far from perfect (to put it mildly). It's essentially a film made by Grock, for Grock. But I don't want to be a judge, because it's a movie talking to the kids of the forties and fifties, not to an old man from the twenty-first century.And it brought to the old man that I am now, something very precious: a window open to the age that I had in the fifties, to the boy that I was then. Meaning also a bit of nostalgia.

(Cinéma Français)


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