L'empire de la perfection

In the Realm of Perfection
Scenes from a black-and-white instructional film about tennis. The commentary explains that the players erroneously assumed that their demonstrations corresponded to the actual movements made in a match. This observation and Jean-Luc Godard’s statement that “Movies lie, not sports” taken from an interview with the "L’Équipe" sports magazine form the starting points for a study on the body and movement, on tennis and the cinema as reflected in analogue technology.
It begins with a visit to the national sports archive, where celluloid treasures lie buried. 16-mm films about the performances of John McEnroe, a left-hander, at the Roland Garros Stadium. In slow motion and from different perspectives, we see his back bend and the unconventional position of his feet when serving. The formidable result of this movement is then demonstrated in real time. Music transforms individual scenes into rock operas or Italo-Westerns of epic length. Isn’t tennis all about becoming the director of your own game? John McEnroe played against his notorious temper tantrums and covered them up at the same time. In close-ups, you see the solitary personality of a player at one with himself.
by Julien Faraut
with Mathieu Amalric
France 2018 French, English 95’ Colour & Black/White Documentary form


  • Mathieu Amalric (Voice-over)


Written and Directed by Julien Faraut
Cinematography Julien Faraut
Editing Andrei Bogdanov
Music Serge Teyssot-Gay
Sound Design Léon Rousseau
Producer William Jéhannin

Produced by

Ufo Production

Julien Faraut

Born in Colombes, France in 1978. In 2000, he earned a master’s degree in History from the University of Paris-Nanterre. He has worked at the French Sports Institute (INSEP) for fifteen years, where he is in charge of a 16mm film collection. He has taken advantage of this collection to make a series of his own films, in which he connects the topics of sport, cinema and art.

Filmography (selection)

2004 Paris jeux t’aime; 60 min. 2006 La Creative du vide; 10 min. 2007 Perspectives rugbystiques; 10 min., installation 2008 Apparations; 10 min. 2009 Une seule fois; 26 min. 2010 Phrases d’armes; 20 min. 2011 Tableaux noir écran lumineux; 5 min. 2013 Regard neuf sur Olympia 52; 80 min. 2014 Entrainement; 7 min. 2015 JJBallet; 8 min. 2018 L’empire de la perfection

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2018