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Film trailer: Start here

Release 2024 from Oliver Matthias Meyer on Vimeo.

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In Vorbereitung: DOK von Oliver M. Meyer

Wer ist dieser lustige Clown? Ausgehend von dieser Frage erkunde ich mich in meinem Dokumentarfilm-Projekt über das Leben und Karriere eines der letzten grossen Circus Clowns: »Gaston«. Gaston Häni entstammt einer traditionellen Artistenfamilie und sein komisches Talent wurde Gaston sozusagen in die Wiege gelegt; schon sein Grossonkel war der legendäre Clown Andreff. Im DOK ist "Gaston" nicht Objekt, sondern Subjekt des Films, dessen Verlauf er aktiv mitbestimmt. Mit den Zeitgenossen Emil Steinberger, Gardi Hutter und Dimitri (Dreharbeiten 2015) im Gespräch mit Gaston wird die Frage diskutiert, woher stammen die komischen Figuren im Theater, Circus und Film und wie entwickelte sich die Komik und Humor seit den Anfängen der "Comedia dell'Arte" im 17. Jahrhundert und den Narrenfiguren im viktorianischen Theater von Shakespeare, dem Pantomimen Joseph Grimaldi über die grosse Zeit der Circus Clowns und der Stummfilm-Komödianten bis hin in die Gegenwart. Das Komische an diesem merkwürdigen Geschäft ist, dass das Publikum lachen will, dass es aber die schwierigste Sache ist es dazu zu bringen. Der Film ist eine Hommage für Gaston und ein "Salut für die letzten komischen Männer und Weiber einer aussterbenden Kunst".


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Clown Gaston · In Search of the Lost Comedy
A film by Oliver M. Meyer
Log Line:
A salute for the last funny man
" The oddest thing about this clarity funny business is that the public wants to laugh, but it's the hardest thing to make them do it."
(Harry Langdon)

The documentary film with the Swiss clown "Gaston" explores the question, from where come the comic characters in the theatre, circus, and film, and has the comedy and the humor changed over time? Is the classic clown figure dead? Do we laugh today, not the same way we used to? Clown "Gaston" embarks on a journey to the roots of comedy. On his journey, he meets representatives of a dying art form: Comedians & Clowns. Gaston Häni (born 1951) talks about comedy, laughter, and fools: "Everybody plays a role in his life. Life is a masquerade and the masquerade is the life." Gaston talks with contemporary witnesses, historians, legendary clowns and comedians, and personalities from the comic guild. Every conversation with Gaston's companions is an exchange among peers, curious, about what it turns into. Clown Gaston is not the object, but the subject of the film in which he actively leads through the history of comedy. The documentary for cinema and TV draws parallels between ancient and modern clowns and comedians. The film traces the story of clowning and its origins beginning with the Commedia dell'Arte and the comic figures in Shakespeare’s theatre and the first celebrated English clown, the white-faced "Joseph Grimaldi" with his pantomime, dances, and jokes. At the dawn of the twentieth century, Vaudeville was king. The Variety and Music Halls featuring a mix of artists like jugglers, vocalists, and comedians became the most popular type of mass entertainment in England, France, and Germany. The last Empires of English entertainment became also the "Golden Age" of clowns and fools. All great names of the Music Hall from Little Tich, Dan Leno, George Robey, and Footit & Chocolat are almost forgotten today. They became the role models for Vaudeville artists like the greatest of all makers of laughter, Charles Chaplin of course and Buster Keaton, and Stan Laurel. This comedy pioneer transformed the role of the clown in the pantomime with a look as iconic as Chaplin's Tramp. And later than Litte Tich, Chaplin, Keaton, and Stan Laurel came the Swiss clown "Grock", a grotesque lovable being from another dimension, a clown in apotheosis, discovering with childlike glee a new habitation. The extreme of these comedians was Grock, an entirely unexpected and fantastic visitation to the Music Halls of Britain, France, and Germany. Grock (Adrian Wettach 1980-1959) was the most complete and consummatory of all clowns. Who was this funny clown? Starting from this issue, the film explores the life and career of one of the last great circus clowns today: Gaston Häni. He assesses his 50-year career as a clown and also looks into the future. An entertaining, informative, and funny story & history of comedy.

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