Thursday, November 22, 2012

Régis Roinsard's Populaire: Speed Typing on the Big Screen

Look at that concentration! However, I do not think she is touch typing - she seems to be going at it with two fingers, wouldn't you say? 

Promo pic - that striped dress is gorgeous! The hands in frames are rather creepy, though. And I cannot for the life of me figure out what typewriter that is - probably one custom-made for the film, I would imagine; it doesn't even vaguely resemble anything I recognize. 

Obviously, the main typewriter featured throughout the film - and used by the heroine - is a Hermes Ambassador, but I wonder if there is also a connection to Japy. The list of characters on Wikipedia includes one Gilbert Japy... doubtless of the Japy Typewriter company! Fascinating.

Timed practice sessions - she does look to be touch typing here, so perhaps my initial concern was unfounded...

This is her competitor, I presume? Is that an Olympia SG-3, or another custom-made typewriter?

If you can, enlarge this picture by all means - Japy, Voss, Underwood... it is awfully fun to guess what everyone is using from these small glimpses. Can't wait to see the movie! It comes out in Switzerland on December 19; let's just say I know how I'll be spending Christmas Day :)

I love how this picture references color-coded typing guides!

And finally, a couple of trailers (hope I get the YouTube embedding right):



If you would like to see more, here is the movie's website: http://populaire-lefilm.com/

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful that Régis Roinsard was inspired by typewriters to make what looks to be a compelling and original period movie - and I cannot wait to see it next month!

If this is the first you are hearing of speed typing contests, you are in luck: Robert Messenger of Oz Typewriter has written about them several times. This is a great post to start with. 

Finally - if you had to enter a speed typing contest, which of your typewriters would you take and why? Off to explore that question myself...

28 comments:

  1. What an interesting post! I sure hope I can watch that movie, will look for it.

    As for the speed typing... I will say a heresy here, but I'd take my IBM Selectric with me... and would make sure to have an appointment with the chiropractic after the test. But I don't care; I really love how that magic golfball jumps and turns and never gets jammed.

    After that little, involuntary IBM commercial, I'm wondering... perhaps sometime in the future someone will make a movie about the first computer users... though watching a thin, bespectacled guy or gal programming in Basic on a ultramodern Apple II might not be as glamorous as this one...

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    1. I think taking a Selectric to a manual typing speed contest would be a little unfair, Miguel :) You get another guess - remember that this movie was set in 1958, so your choice has to be period appropriate!

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    2. XD You're right, the official Guidebook for Time Travel says you can't take period-incorrect equipment with you. Ok, then... I'll bring my Olympia SG-1, painted in period-incorrect but eye-catching turquoise. And still make sure to have an appointment with the chiropractor after the test. XD

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    3. You need to see "Desk Set" Miguel!

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  2. Excellent! There was much talk about this film at the collectors' meeting in Wasselonne in September of this year, as several of the members of the French clubs had furnished and serviced typewriters for the film. The Ambassador shown was part of the meetings exhibition. Super this could succeed!

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    1. How wonderful that you got to see the Ambassador in person, Georg! Thanks for sharing your picture. I know typewriter sales are dismal in France - hopefully this movie drums up some interest and many of the models languishing on the market find good homes. Without inflating prices too, I hope...

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  3. there we go, a close-up of the machine: click.

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  4. Oh I'd love to see this movie. i doubt it'll make it here though. We don't get a lot of European films in the cinemas. Hmmm it looks like the contestants are all women in the film but from Robert Messenger's post, there were evidently some men in the mix.

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    1. Well, in the worst case you can get it on DVD in a few months - they might be willing to subtitle it in English as it seems to be financed by a major studio.

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  5. I am so looking forward to seeing this film, many thanks for the tip!

    I will take my Olivetti Lexikon 80 to a speed typing contest, I find myself typing fast with it. Now if only I can mention my typing skills in the same breath as "speed." ( :

    I also have a secret non-Olivetti that I had gotten very fond of. Coming soon!

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    1. I hope you get to see it, Ton! I agree that the Olivetti Standards are quite fast - I like my Graphika but would not take it to a speed typing contest because it would be too distracting if I needed to backspace (calculating the width of each letter, etc).

      A secret non-Olivetti... wonder what that could be! Perhaps an Optima or Torpedo? Knowing you it won't be anything as ordinary as another Olympia or Hermes - looking forward to seeing it!

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  6. I'd never heard of this... Just went and looked it up! Magnificent post.

    It might get an airing here in Australia, but I doubt it will be show in Brisbane, unless part of a film festival somewhere.

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  7. I need to look for the film. Could you imagine speed keyboarding on a PC? Most of the folks I see using a keyboard have no where near the skills of the typists of the past and even of today.

    Ever wonder why back in the typing days when keys needed pressed and there was a constant push for accuracy and speed -- there was no carpal tunnel?

    Thanks for the great post.

    And, A belated Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. I believe I have speed typed on a PC - I learned how to type with a program called Mavis Beacon back in the late '90s, and they had typing speed games which were ever so much fun. It was awfully hard to be accurate, though! With fond memories of Mavis in mind, I tried to get J to use the program too, but he is fiercely committed to his two-finger approach. Oh, well.

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    2. I remember using Mavis Beacon! That was just awesome!

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  8. Ha!, you've just pushed all of Tori's buttons, a lavish film set in the 50's with lots of sparkly typewriters and painted fingernails. It's even in French! I'm certain we'll be hunting up that DVD release the instant it's available (:

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  9. The movie looks like a lot of fun!

    Some bits do seem inaccurate -- as you say, she appears to be two-finger-typing in a couple of shots, and in one of them she is peering at the typewriter itself, when a speed typist would keep her eyes locked on the copy.

    I think the weird-looking, angular typewriter in a couple of the pictures is an anachronism, a Japy Style from the mid to late '60s.

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    1. Thanks for the astute observations, Richard, and for accurately identifying the Japy Style! I had not seen one of those before but I just found several for sale on Le Bon Coin. Strange that they chose to go with an anachronism - surely there were plenty of fine typewriters from 1958 that could have been dyed pink. Probably an aesthetic choice - it's a quirky-looking thing!

      You are absolutely right about Rose not keeping her eyes on the copy; in a couple of shots it is not readily visible, and in the still with Louis holding the timer, there is no way she could read the copy properly if it is lying flat on the table!

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  10. After scouring the film's website and watching the trailers, it appears that the heroine two-fingered types at the beginning, and then learns touch-typing in her training later in the film. Also, the website suggests that the pink/purple mystery machine is called a "Populaire", perhaps a machine like a Japy, but in a custom-made shell. The shell is much more angular than in the Japy that Prof. Polt points to, so I'm laying bets that it's a custom job.

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  11. Oh, poo. I just lost my bet. The "Making of" videos are now on the official site, and YOU MUST WATCH THEM! From these videos, despite not knowing a lick of French, I can see that the mystery machines are stock Japys, painted pink, and there's at least 6 identical ones in the film (as there's a display of 6 of them prominent at the beginning of each "making of" clip). Also, the rival love interest of the main character is named "Gilbert Japy", presumably the man who supplies the Japys to the heroine for the later speed typing contests.

    So Prof. Polt is right again :D

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    1. Thanks for bringing the "Making of" videos to my attention, Ted! Absolutely fascinating. Gosh, am I really going to watch this movie in French - I am good at reading French but not so much listening to it; still, it will have to do. If it is really exceptional, I might find myself picking up the DVD so I can read the subtitles later...

      The videos Ted references are on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EfGsXYLCpw&feature=relmfu ... there's about 5 in the series.

      Anyway, yes, Richard is right again about the Japys - although I have to give the filmmakers credit for making painted plastic typewriters look really good -must be the lighting.

      According to the interviews, the lead actresses spent six hours a week on lessons - given by teachers brought in from Eastern Europe - (plus extra practice time at home) for three months in order to learn how to touch type on typewriters - they both started out two-finger typing, as you correctly surmised. I love learning all the little details! They certainly went to a lot of trouble, although the anachronistic Japys are still a question mark, sigh.

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    2. The film's website does infer that these Japys are some sort of special model - The online typing game lists the Japy as a "Populaire" while listing the 6 or 7 other machines you can choose from with their proper model names. Perhaps the storyline is that the pink Japys were special models made and branded to go along with the heroine's rising typing fame by Gilbert Japy, and thus significantly more futuristic than period Japys of that time?

      In any case, Google isn't able to find any reference to "Japy Populaire" or "Japy Popular" that doesn't relate directly to the film. To some degree, it has to be a fictional model. Too bad, they're quite attractive. :D

      BTW: if you find a DvD release with english subtitles, please let me know - my dvd player is capable of playing any region dvd's, so even a European regionally encoded DVD of this film would be on my shopping list.

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  12. I can't wait to see this - I've posted it to my local art-house's facebook page.

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  13. Which typewriter for a speed contest? I'm a recent convert, but it would have to be my H3K

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    1. Thanks for linking to that interview, Ted! Really thorough but I wonder if it doesn't contain too many spoilers :) Still, fun to read after one has seen the film, and goes into much more than just the typewriter aspect. I saw the movie on Jan 1 in Paris and handwrote a review which I shall type up shortly - the gist of it being that I found it fun, well made, and very much worth seeing! I hope the long write-up in English means it will soon be available for English-speaking audiences as well.

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  15. Me too! It is out on DVD in France, and I can get a copy in French for about $30, but I'm really hoping for one that at least has subtitles in English, which it doesn't appear this release does.

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