Jacques Tati

Les automates et leur automobile

About this photograph

At the same time, bureaucrats dressed in identical clothes get back into their cars to go home.PlayTime by Jacques Tati (1967) © Les Films de Mon OncleLooking for a job, Monsieur Hulot has an appointment in an ultramodern city full of glass and steel. Quickly swayed from his task, he valiantly attempts to resist this hostile and austere environment in which the neutrality of the sounds and tones are only matched by the repetition of forms. Both actor and spectator, caught between fascination and confusion, his character is swept along by the perpetual whirlwind of modern life.

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The Artist
Jacques Tati

Jacques Tati (1907-1982), né Tatischeff, began his career in the 1930s as a music-hall artist, touring the international theatre, circus and cabaret scenes from one city to the next, where he met with great success. By turns an actor, scriptwriter, then director of three short films and six features, Tati stands out among burlesque filmmakers as one of the most original and inventive of his generation. While The Big Day (1949) first earned the enthusiasm of audiences owing to its innovative character, Mr. Hulot's Holiday (1952) and My Uncle (1958) enabled Tati to garner numerous awards both in France and across the globe (Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1959). In the last two films, Tati invented and embodied the character of Monsieur Hulot, a lanky, clumsy fellow who smokes a pipe, with whom Tati was thenceforth always assimilated. Although he produced a film worthy of the greatest Hollywood studios with PlayTime (1967), its commercial failure and financial deficit compromised his activities and obliged him to transfer his rights in his own productions. He is nonetheless considered one of the greatest French comic directors and received a César d'Honneur in 1977 for his overall achievement.

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