The rise and fall of the famous clown Chocolat, the first black circus performer who revolutionised the stagnant circus acts and conquered Paris of the Belle Époque with his exuberance and originality.
The life story of Rafael Padilla, a former slave in Cuba, who unexpectedly became a star clown in the Paris of the Belle Epoque. Discovered in a small country circus in the North of France by George Footit, a British clown and acrobat, he formed a successful duo with him, 'Footit and Chocolat'. For two decades, and despite conflicts between the two artists, Footit as the authoritarian white clown and Chocolat as the Auguste Black drudge filled crowds with enthusiasm. But nothing lasts forever and the glory of Chocolat, despite his high ambitions, started to decline until his premature death in 1917.Written by
While based on a true story, the film takes many liberties with reality. As such, in real life the Delvaux Circus where much of the film takes place never existed, Chocolat didn't start his clown career with Foottit in France but with British clown Tony Grice in Spain, he didn't transition from being a "circus freak" to a clown but from being a servant, he never went to prison, Foottit isn't the one who came up with the idea to pair them, Marie Hecquet was neither a widow nor a nurse and was in a relationship with Chocolat before he ever met Foottit and there is no evidence that Foottit was homosexual, among many, many other differences (including the film's ending). See more »
When leaving for Paris, Chocolat throws his bag on the carriage roof next to Footit's suitcase. In the city while walking up to Nouveau Cirque, Footit is carrying his suitcase but Chocolat's bag is strangely missing. See more »
The story about an early black clown makes for an interesting tale; the circus setting is always a welcome deviation from our rational world, and there's even some nice acting and good sets here. Somehow it still doesn't add up to an A movie for me, although I'll recommend it at least for a single viewing.
The producers and director showed some balls in keeping this from being either a feelgood movie or a politically correct pamphlet; instead they go for a rather realistic and character-driven angle. The downside to this bold decision is that the movie is not very captivating, simply because the main character is - like most men - a mixed bag at best and a cautionary example of what money can do to people. In fact, this cautionary tale of a man whose very financial success leads to his moral decline is much more in the center of the movie than the racial themes which are dealt with mainly in a five minute detour.
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