Despised for years for its pedestrian humor and hysterical expressiveness, unrivaled at the box office for two decades, the cinema of Louis de Funès stars in an unexpected restoration in France. The television rerun of his films, rescued to bring a bit of comfort to the confinement, has brought together five million viewers per title.
An exhibition at the French Cinematheque, the first dedicated to an actor, was due to open its doors on April 1. The health crisis forced the postponement of the inauguration, which has not been able to stop a demand that had long been brewing.
In 2019 a museum dedicated to his work was already inaugurated in Saint-Raphaël, on the French Riviera, where his mythical gendarme character imposed the law in the 1960s, before such successful films asThe great revelry (1966), The great restaurant (1966) or The tattooed (1968).
It is not that De Funès is a beloved actor again, because he never ceased to be one. The novelty is that it is seen as more than a concert of histrionics and rancidity. “I was interested in approaching him as a creator, as an author who left his own mark,” explains critic Alain Kruger, curator of the exhibition at the French Cinematheque, which will open its doors in the coming weeks. “
He was an heir to pantomime and commedia dell’arte, with an amazing sense of rhythm, worthy of the jazz pianist that he used to be, and an elegance in his way of acting, close to dance ”. He combined the physical comedy of silent film with a taste for grimace typical of a cartoon in a crazy cocktail that has not aged as badly as one might expect.