T. it.: Giorno di festa. T. int.: The Big Day. Scen.: Jacques Tati, Henri Marquet, con la collaborazione di René Wheeler. F.: Jacques Mercanton, Jacques Sauvageot. M.: Marcel Moreau. Scgf.: René Moulaert. Mus.: Jean Yatove. Int.: Jacques Tati (François, il postino), Guy Decomble (Roger), Paul Frankeur (Marcel), Santa Relli (moglie di Roger), Maine Vallée (Jeannette), Delcassan (la pettegola), Jacques Beauvais (proprietario del ca è), Roger Rafal (il parrucchiere), gli abitanti di Sainte-Sévère-sur-Indre. Prod.: Fred Orain, André Paulvé per Cady Films. Pri. pro.: 11 maggio 1949 DCP. D.: 87’. Bn.
The original negative from the black and white 1949 version has unfortunately been lost and, since the release of the colour version in 1995, no work had been carried out on Tati’s two black and white versions. In 2012, this first black and white version was digitalized in 4K, starting from two duplicates positive from the era on nitrate film conserved in the Archives Françaises du Film. The variable density sound was also taken from these two duplicates.
The title is itself a metaphor for the Liberation – not forgetting that the film was filmed three years after it happened – of the euphoria and the celebrations that it caused throughout France. The long scene with the raising of the flag pole with the tricolour has an undeniably symbolic quality. […] To further highlight the metaphor, it is worth mentioning Sophie Tatischeff’s [daughter of Jacques Tati] observation about the similarity between the postman and General Charles De Gaulle, in a close up, filmed from behind, as he waves from the café balcony to the fanfare arriving in the town square. It is not so inconsistent if you think about the high rank, the uniform, the character’s kepi… It the same way of thinking, the physical feats of the postman who tries to compete with the American postal service (Jour de fête is without doubt the most physical and Keatonesque of Tati’s films) can be compared to De Gaulle’s efforts to preserve the identity and the grandeur of France in the face of the American domination of postwar Europe. But this comparison certainly does not explain the whole film…
The peculiarity of Jour de fête can mainly be found in its general harmony and fluidity that it is given by the postman’s journey by bicycle. Visual harmony, above all in the landscape […] which the film opens and closes with, including the houses of the town, the fair and the inhabitants one after the other. It is the France of the past, which he clearly contrasts in Mon Oncle, with the hard, obscure modern world. But in Jour de fête there is no dichotomy: the fairs and their attractions blend together sweetly in the good-natured universe of the town of Sainte-Sévère (sic) […]. The American postal service, seen in a documentary, is an illusory element, so unreal in the context that it serves mainly as a poetic engine which inspires the postman’s gestures and the jokes he is subjected to, which do not result in alienation or drama. […]. His final post round, which is both a masterpiece of acrobatic virtuosity and at the same time frenzied and absurd (François delivers every letter in a funnier way, one on a pitchfork, another he inserts into a combine harvester), is conventional and kinetic absolute beauty.
Vincent Ostria, Couleur locale, “Cahiers du cinéma”, n. 487, January 1995
The restoration of the first version of Jour de fête was carried out by Les Films de Mon Oncle at the laboratories of L’Immagine Ritrovata and L.E. Diapason (for the sound)