PARADE is basically the presentation of a circus performance, in which artistes interact with the audience in a series of set pieces - juggling acts, tightrope walks, clowning, balloon fights, plus one or two routines in which Tati demonstrates his remarkable talent for mime. The film's artificialities are evident: we see cardboard cutouts of members of the audience among live-action actors, while the performers sometimes talk to inanimate objects. Tati's purpose, although not overtly stated, seems to be to show how life is like a circus, with all of us indulging in a series of ritualized actions which, although meaningful in themselves, can also be considered absurd. This is definitely true of some of his set-pieces - for example the very funny routine where he imitates a boxer going into a championship bout. However, a series of routines do not necessarily make for an entertaining film: some of the performances involving actors other than Tati are distinctly second- rate, while the audience - when Tati's camera shows them in close-up - sometimes look thoroughly bored with the proceedings, despite the enthusiastic applause on the soundtrack. Judged by his previous oeuvre, PARADE is sadly a very second-rate piece: one feels sad that the great director could not have bowed out on a more positive note.
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