when the director of “Jour de Fête” fed on the atmosphere of the oval world

The director of “Jour de Fête” and “Mon Uncle” played rugby in his youth. A sport that will have a decisive influence on its course.

Before becoming the director we know, Jacques Tati found in rugby that he practiced at the Racing Club of France a family, a school, a stage for his first improvisations. The state of mind of the oval world shaped the great Jacques.

Frankly, we knew Jacques Tati able to sit well on a bike. He had largely proven it in Celebration day. But Jacques Tati rugby player and passionate about an oval ball, this aspect of the filmmaker's life is not necessarily known.

A slightly yellowed photo is there to testify. Philippe Gigot, manager of the Jacques Tati catalog – Les Films de Mon Oncle, delicately takes it out of an archive drawer where it is preciously kept. And for good reason : “To my knowledge, this is the only photo of Tati wearing the Racing jersey”, explains Philippe Gigot who shows the smiling proof that the filmmaker “paid his 1930, 1931 and 1932 membership fees”.

The only photo of Jacques Tati in rugby player (M. Garnier / France 3 Midi-Pyrénées)

Rugby, who was still Jacques Tatischeff discovered it a few years earlier in England during a language study trip. When he joined Racing, his large size predisposes him to play second line. But what marks his passage is his facetious spirit. For a match, he brings his team of 11 on the field with a soccer ball, being himself dressed as a goalkeeper. The referee loses his Latin there, the spectators are diverted and the disturbed opposing team will lose the match.

The economist Alfred Sauvy, who was the captain of team B of the Racing Club of France in the 1930s, evoked, fifty years later, the night outings after the match.

We were doing theater in the street. Jacques Tatischeff was already funny and funny. We can say that the spectators will never see everything he could imagine by improvising.Alfred Sauvy

These nocturnal outings, more commonly known as the third half in rugby, give rise, in Le Bon Rock café, to joyful and lively parties as told by Marc Dondey, author of a biography of Jacques Tati: “One evening Jacques Tatischeff started to improvise to mimic what had happened in the afternoon with extraordinary talent. Then he enriched it little by little. He found there what no one else was not doing. “

Tatischeff makes these improvisations with his teammates, which looks a bit like a theater troupe. There are rugby players who write things with him and play with him.

It is at the same time his school, his family, his troop. It is the breeding ground from which he will grow his talent. Tati is all of that rugbyMarc DondeyAuthor of a biography of Jacques Tati

Faced with the success of these improvisations in the third half, the Sauvy team decided to put on shows called Revues du Racing. They will be played from 1930 to 1934. It was at this time that Tati asserted himself as an artist. “It was the engine that allowed him to escape fate from all traces of art framing like dad and grandpa” analyzes Stéphane Goudet, lecturer in film history.

These moments of laughter and conviviality will mark Jacques Tati and leave a mark in his work because the time of the match and the time of the party, in the event of victory, symbolize the concept of unity which is dear to him.

This idea of ​​blurring the boundaries between social classes, Tati will very clearly import it into his work.Stéphane Goudetlecturer in film history

However, Jacques Tati never filmed rugby. He had the idea. Witness the scenario of a short film, found in the archives, which he planned to make. he was called Rugby.


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