Elvis Gratton: Le king des kings (Pierre Falardeau & Julien Poulin, 1985)
This compilation of many short films directed by Pierre Falardeau and Julien Poulin sure made its way into the cultural references of every Québécois out there. You can't say "Yeah!" like Elvis Presley without having the people around you doing it in chorus afterward "à la" Gratton. For those who will watch this today will find it extremely outdated. Well it was even at the time it came out. Don't get me wrong here, it was made on purpose to look like a white thrash/redneck low-life joke. The title role, Robert "Elvis" Gratton (Julien Poulin) is a caricature of the middle to low-class Québécois of the time. On one side it is made as an ironic comedy whilst it strongly denounciates the bold irritations of its creators.
It is worth noticing that Poulin and Falardeau were notable nationalist or as we call them in Québec separatist who think that the nation of the province should have its own country and Independence. As I already stated before I won't analyze politics or either defend ideologies. However, I am exposing the creators' values and visions of their world at the time. The story is a series of sketches put together without any real narrative structure except the recurrent characters. Made prior to the release of the feature film the three sketches were shot between 1981 and 1985. The story is centered on the racist, vulgar swearer that Gratton represents. It is not a kind representation of the middle-class citizen and it involves a lot of contempt and maybe a little bit of self-derision to the audience to fully appreciate him in its whole.
Following Elvis Gratton, Falardeau made many political films some hits and some misses. We will be reviewing the better of his offerings eventually on this blog. They include Octobre (not an Eisenstein remake), Le party, and 15 février 1839. The popular phenomenon of Elvis Gratton may have become bigger than it really deserves to be but it is still a comedy institution in Québec's cinematic landscape.