Trailer for Iconic Tennis Doc ‘The French’ Presented by Wes Anderson
by Alex Billington
June 16, 2021
“I felt good in my head… I had nothing to lose.” Metrograph is re-releasing this iconic sports documentary through Metrograph Pictures online starting this week in June. The French is a 1982 sports doc film, one of the first times any film crew was allowed to film on the iconic Roland Garros courts in France. Follow this up with the excellent tennis doc In the Realm of Perfection, also made from Roland Garros footage. For the very first time, a documentary team is allowed to shoot sequences in the backstage of the French Open. The film is also being presented by filmmaker Wes Anderson, who has featured tennis in plenty of his films. He provided this quote for the re-release: “For me, this film encapsulates everything I loved and love about the tennis of that moment; and in the hands of the great and singular William Klein, it is at once a gripping sports page, a fascinating piece of reportage, and a work of art.” I find these films so utterly fascinating, taking us deep into a world we’re normally not allowed to examine this closely. Even if you don’t like tennis.
Here’s the new re-release trailer (+ posters) for William Klein’s doc The French, direct from YouTube:
For two weeks a year, the world looks to Paris as the titans of tennis come together to play at the Roland Garros Tournament, better known as The French Open, or simply, The French. In 1981, Klein and three camera crews were given exclusive, unprecedented access to the tournament for the first time in its 90-year history, and using that doorway into locker rooms, TV studios, and players’ boxes, he shot the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at the 1981 French Open—a crucial moment in a crucial year in the history of a game, and its iconic players Björn Borg, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, Yannick Noah, and Ivan Lendl. With Klein’s customary eagle eye and whirlwind energy, The French showcases the noisy bedlam that accompanies any major sporting event, while also revealing a level of candor from his subjects that is impossible to imagine in today’s secretive media-trained world. From the massage tables to the umpires’ chairs, Klein captures the details of one of the greatest events in tennis history, the locker room gossip, the splattering of clay and sweat, the rapt audiences, and of course, the masterful tennis plays. The French is directed by American doc filmmaker William Klein, of many other doc films including Far from Vietnam, Eldridge Cleaver: Black Panther, and The Little Richard Story. This originally opened in 1982. Metrograph will re-release Klein’s The French doc playing online at Metrograph.com starting June 18th this summer.