As a child from the 1970s, I grew up watching a strict selection of channel 2 and 3 programs for kids, like Récré A2. One of the feature shows was "Mes mains ont la parole" (1979) which, to me, was so intriguing as it had a certain soothing and poetic effect on me, like magic. The show was originally created for the hearing impaired young public, it was the first one of its kind on French TV. Everything appealed to me from Mozart's opening music to the beauty of their hands moving so deftly to form the symbols of sign language.
Once the Mozartian introduction (from Piano Concerto n°21) died away, Marie-Thérèse L'Huillier-Abbou would start telling us a story in sign language and the voice over would put it into words. It would always start like this:
'Regardez, regardez mes mains.
Elles vont vous raconter une histoire.
Now here is why this memory came back to my mind... Last weekend, I was offered a spectacular duo of illusionists who pulled the strings of their art in front of my mesmerized eyes.
I spent Saturday in the good hands of Sylvain Chaumet's L'Illusioniste, a gently melancholy and absurd animated cartoon about tricks and tricksters, and magicians. Yes, magicians exist! Suffice it to laugh our way through Tatischeff's ordinary and less ordinary magical trips to get a hint or a whiff of what sheer magic is. Fragile, tender like the pages of a book blown open by the wind and whose shadow form the fluttering wings of a bird. The screenplay was based on Jacques Tati's script, so there are no real dialogues. Don't force it if you are allergic to Tati's films!
Sunday afternoon we sat, watched and listened with great care to the 'octopus playing' technique (as Marco coined it) of grand pianist Hélène Grimaud at the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Yes, last weekend was really all about illusionists.
Les mains ont eu la parole et, croyez-moi, j'ai bien écarquillé mes yeux et tendu l'oreille!
(Their hands did talk and believe me, I stared wide-eyed and pricked up my ears)