F.: Quentin Théron, Thibaut Duez. M.: Fanny Servant. Int.: Baptiste Etchegaray (voce narrante). Prod.: Jérôme Barthélemy, Daniel Sauvage per Caïmas productions, con la partecipazione di Cine+, Paris Première, Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée. DCP. Bn e Col.
The comic art of Louis de Funès (1914-1983), like that of Totò and a few others, ultimately transcends the limits of the films in which he appeared, thanks to the dynamic expressivity of his persona. Drawing on contributions from critics, scholars and the actor’s colleagues, this documentary deciphers the keys to the de Funès phenomenon, intelligently analysing the peculiar characters of his facial and corporeal mimicry, the plasticity of his gestures, and the doubling of character and creator (in the sense that, once he became successful, ‘Fufu’ effectively became the author of the majority of his films, often limiting the director’s role). Born into a well-off Spanish family, de Funès began his film career relatively late (in 1946, when he was in his 30s) with a lengthy theatrical and cinematic apprenticeship, before achieving international celebrity in 1963 and going on to reign supreme at the French box office almost without interruption until his premature death. He made use of that long ‘prelude’ to refine and enrich his repertoire of grimaces, looks and movements, creating an explosive, original and irresistible ‘graphic’ range. Whatever character he was playing, de Funès always emitted a destabilising and pyrotechnic electricity, a nervous madness that was organic and visceral in character, and marked by excess. Like all the great clowns, ‘Fufu’ would have found his ideal place in silent cinema and dialogue was often willingly sabotaged by his brilliant excesses, which truncated, distorted and ridiculed the logic of French rationalism. As the film extracts chosen by Etchegaray e Perge make clear, his small and agile body could perform wild acrobatic acts, transforming him into a sort of living cartoon. A masterful solo artist, he could also perform equally successfully in a duo; with Michel Galabru in the Gendarme series, he created duets worthy of Laurel & Hardy.