Marcel Marceu arrives for the first time to Japan in 1960
Marcel Marceau is the world's greatest mime - and there are no runners up. His name is synonymous with that of his highly refined art. Mime is sort of the wordless poetry of the theater, using facial expression and dance-like movement to evoke a mood, a character or situation cameo, or a whole story with no verbal content at all. There is a parallel in silent film, where the challenge of nonverbal communication was technologically built into the form, and, indeed, Chaplin and Keaton, et. al., are acknowledged influences on Marceau.
But the silent films had all the freedom that cameras and sets and titles could add to make their job easier. Marceau's is a purer challenge. What can one wordless man in tights, without props, convey on an empty stage, with only movement and facial expression?
He portrays a painter, in acutely observed detail, setting up his easel, blocking out his canvas, framing his subject landscape, squeezing the paint from a tube and mixing it on his palette - a complete situation drawn with unfailing accuracy and a soupçon of wry.
He portrays a bird-keeper, his long-fingered hands fluttering like so many feathered avians, setting his charges free - they, reluctant at first to fly away. And when they are all gone, he enters the cage and is held there, captive himself, in a turnaround worthy of Hitchcock.
He portrays the entire cast of characters in a cafe - the waiter kicking open the kitchen door, the lounge lizard leaning on the bar, the chef, the billiards player, the customer complaining about the bill.(...more>>)
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