Claude de Calan, Pierre Etaix

The Clown and the Wise Man Publication date : March 1, 2004

"One of us is an acrobat and a filmmaker who tries to provoke laughter; the other one tries to contribute to the progress of mathematical physics. There was nothing that should have brought us together, except for the intervention of impish chance. But since every passion likes to pour itself out, we were soon holding forth on our respective activities. Our chatting confirmed with intensity a truth that we hardly dared to sense: we used practically the same words to describe our efforts, our joys, the reasons for our failures and the conditions of our successes. We could endlessly throw our ideas back and forth. The surprising closeness of our approaches, the strange fraternity between our two disciplines, which are as far away from each other in their goals as in their techniques, gave us great joy. It is our feeling of wonder that we’d like to share here," write Pierre Etaix and Claude de Calan.

Sometimes known as the French Buster Keaton, Pierre Etaix is a master of burlesque and the inventor of unequalled visual gags. He draws much of his inspiration from the circus world, and is faithful to the spirit of Mark Sennett, Max Linder and Charlie Chaplin. A follower and collaborator of Jacques Tati, he is the director of such films as "Le soupirant", "Yoyo", "Tant qu’on a la santé", "Le grand amour" and "Pays de cocagne". Besides being a great filmmaker, Etaix is also a poet, illustrator and painter.

Claude de Calan is a scientist at the Centre of Theoretical Physics at the Ecole Polytechnique.