Home1-2526-5051-100101-50151-200201-250251-300
-
PLAYTIME
1967 - Jacques Tati
France / Italy
20
Opening Shot

After the title cards clear away from the clouds the shot pans right through the clouds before jump cutting to a carefully composed shot of the top of a large modern office building. The film then cuts to a pair of nuns walking and then from inside the building we see a couple staring at the nuns as they walk past. While the film leaves the viewer believing the building could be several different things (as we see nuns, janitors, police offer, a nurse with a baby) we soon find out that it is an airport.

The Film

I think Playtime is easily one of the most endlessly watchable films of all-time. A personal favorite in every way! Though he made just six features film, French filmmaker Jacques Tati is one of the very greatest comedians in the history of film. A master of visual comedy that rates alongside the legendary figures of the silent cinema (Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd). Tati was an artist in every sense. A perfectionist who controlled every detail without compromise. After his hysterical satire of modernized obsession (1958's Mon Oncle) Tati grew tired of the Mr. Hulot character he was most known for, and as a result in Playtime he becomes more the observant and the film centers around "everybody". The film took nearly ten years to complete and its production nearly put Tati in bankruptcy as well as giving the film public criticism upon and before it's release. Needing a set to control every detail to perfection, Tati created the expensive creation that became known as "Tativille". Ultimately Playtime is Tati's great achievement and one of the very best in film history (particularly for Tati's mastery of visual compositions and use of sound). Shot on 70mm film, Playtime is nearly without plot, dialogue or even close-ups, yet the comic inventions make it one of the most endlessly watchable films. Tati's cinema blends charming and inventive visual gags, social satire, and a mastery of emotional expression through visual composition and sound. He stands as one of the worlds all-time greatest and most artistically expressive comedians. This (and really all of Tati's work) is a film I love to revisit often!! If you've never seen a Tati film before, I would suggest starting with Mon Oncle or Mr. Hulot's Holiday, but be sure to eventually check out Playtime, his finest masterpiece!

The Filmmaker

French filmmaker Jacques Tati is one of the very greatest comedians in the history of film. A master of visual comedy that rates alongside the legendary figures of the silent cinema (Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd). Tati was an artist in every sense. A perfectionist who controlled every detail without compromise. As such, Tati only made six features, but his place in film history is to me one of the very greatest filmmakers of all-time. Like Keaton and Chaplin, Tati began on the stage and like them both Tati was known for playing the same character in his films- Mr. Hulot a charming, everyday yet simpleminded character who seems oblivious of the world around him, which is becoming more and more congested, mad, and device-obsessed. It is his naïve mindset that turns the world around him from madness into absolute chaos, and this is where Tati's comic brilliance is developed. Just from a psychical standpoint Tati's Mr Hulot looks as if he is living in a world he doesn't belong in. He looks and especially moves unlike anyone else, as he is always leaning forward on an angle with his trademark hat, pipe, umbrella, and flood pants. In Tati's world, modern technology and proficient devices ultimately prove to be useless and ineffective. He prefers a life of individuality and one that doesn't seem hurried to meet everyone's wants. Above all, Tati supports the hopeful qualities of life and how modernized technology changes can affect the goodness of human connection. Visually, Tati rates as one of the very great masters of composition and space. His films contain very little dialogue (or dialogue that is muffled and dwarfed by sound). Tati's expression is captured through his masterful use of visual composition and use of sound. Characters, and even the emotional state of characters, are defined by the complex depth of visual compositions (including clothes, posture, behavior, backgrounds, and environment). Tati's films are specifically concerned with the limits of the visual composition. In a way, Tati's visuals distant the viewer toward the role of the observant, which ultimately has a more effective emotional connection with the film. His films express visually detailed worlds that are unlike our own yet because we can see, hear and feel it from a distance, the result is essentially an emotionally involving and universal reflection of our own world. After writing and starring in some comedies in the 1930s and 40s, Tati made his directorial debut with 1949's Jour de Fete. While Jour de Fete is definitive Tati in style and themes, it was his second film (1953's Mr Hulot's Holiday) that introduced the world to his beloved Mr. Hulot character. The film was a worldwide success and even earned Tati an Academy Award nomination for Best Writing. His third film (1958's Mon Oncle) may be his most fully celebrated and endearing comic masterworks. A quintessentially observant visual comedy, Mon Oncle is a satire of humanities modernized obsession. It may be the funniest of all his films, but to me his greatest masterpiece was his next film, 1967's Playtime. After Mon Oncle, Tati grew tired of the Mr. Hulot character and as a result in Playtime he becomes more the observant and the film centers around "everybody". The film took nearly ten years to complete and its production nearly put Tati in bankruptcy as well as giving the film public criticism upon and before it's release. Needing a set to control every detail to perfection, Tati created the expensive creation that became known as "Tativille". Ultimately Playtime is Tati's great achievement and one of the very best in film history (particularly for Tati's mastery of visual compositions and use of sound). Shot on 70mm film, Playtime is nearly without plot, dialogue or even close-ups, yet the comic inventions make it one of the most endlessly watchable films. Tati's cinema blends charming and inventive visual gags, social satire, and a mastery of emotional expression through visual composition and sound. He stands as one of the worlds all-time greatest and most artistically expressive comedians.

Images
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Resources
trailer (youtube)      
-