Film buffs, a new mutant breed that can see only in the dark and that arranges unlike things in even rows of bestness, have collared the word 'pantheon'. They have in mind - this species that seems to have learnt English by German gramophone record in an igloo - a holy order of film directors. This word is easily confused with Parthenon, of which the Goons said that it would be nice when it was finished, so it seems best to say 'favourite film directors' instead - Renoir, Gance, Eisenstein, Ray, Truffaut, Keaton, Vigo, Tati. Tati has lately died after a career triumphant beyond compare in comic quality, apart perhaps from Keaton. Both could have made films in broom cupboards. Keaton used his august and stoic profile as a sort of mainsail, braced against great winds in search of the compass direction of a moral order. Tati seemed to regard his own face as a trodden-on mishmash of which he was not on the side, because it belonged to him and he was not particularly in favour of himself, though otherwise his loyalty was indeed to mess. Apart from Renoir, he is about the only man I have ever known who has not complained about the calibre of busy women's washing-up.
LRB 30 December 1982 | PDF Download