Last day: I was nominated by Andrew Grimes Griffin – One movie poster a day for 10 days. The no explanation bit is annoying people so:
I grew up in Canada, which was then a colonised country, at least culturally. Most of the media we had access to was American with bits of British and French, all avidly consumed, thrown in. So animation, experimental cinema, documentary, often but not exclusively through the NFB, had a different level of importance to us. They offered spaces where different identities could be imagined, reflected, explored and artists could try out different means of expressing what seemed an overall national project, reflected in many guises: ‘Who and what are we? What is Here?’. So I wanted to reflect that in my list, and A Chairy Tale was my choice. I, and probably a whole generation of us, saw this at school. No poster. It wasn’t commercial. But a great collaboration of two great loves of mine, Norman McLaren and Claude Jutra, with Evelyn Lambert doing the stop-motion animation. The music features Ravi Shankar on sitar & Sri Chatur Lal on tabla. It can be seen below:
À tout prendre (Claude Jutra, Quebec, 1963):
Claude Jutra’s magnificent ‘A tout prendre’ from 1963. An inter-racial love story and surely one of the first ‘coming out’ films. It’s shot in the new wave style of young cineastes experimenting with cinema in ways that speak their love in almost every frame. I always find this thrilling. It’s got some beautiful songs; it’s about bohemia and art and love in Montreal during the quiet revolution. It’s playful and sad and romantic and all that young people look for in a movie. There’s even a fashion show at Holt Renfrew. It certainly spoke to me when I first saw it and continues to do so. François Truffaut appears. There’s an interesting dossier on it in the current Jump Cut:
A lovely moment from Claude Jutra’s À tout prendre (Canada, 1963). Johanne and Claude are in love and now a couple. He introduces her to his friends, which include François Truffaut. Johanne asks François to show her how to blow cigarette smoke out, like in the choo-choo train scene in his Jules et Jim (France, 1962), which must still have been in release when this was filmed. The dialogue in English goes something like this:
Claude: ‘It’s odd but since I’ve fallen in love with you going out pleases me more even though there’s nothing to see.’
Johanne: ‘But there’s more to show’
Johanne: ‘I find your friends wonderful’.
Claude: ‘No need to tell me I can see’.
Johanne: ‘They find me beautiful. They have such great taste that they all deserve a little hug’.
Claude: ‘There’s no need for that. Thank you very much’.
Johanne:Don’t be silly I adore you.
Johanne: ‘François? Show me the trick with the train smoke, you know? Like in your film?’
Truffaut: Oh it’s easy’.
Truffaut: ‘Very good’
Claude: ‘look at me, look at me, look at me!’
Johanne: ‘I don’t see you, I don’t see you, I don’t see you.’
Who hasn’t felt like this at a party? And why does the voice over still seem so inventive so many years after À tout prendre was released (in 1963)?
A favourite moment from À tout prendre: Claude: ‘a teardrop?’; Johanne: ‘a whole vale of tears’.