Jacques Tati’s gloriously choreographed; nearly wordless comedies about confusion in the age of technology reached their creative apex with Playtime. For this monumental achievement, a nearly three-year-long, bank-breaking production, Tati again thrust the endearingly clumsy, resolutely old-fashioned Monsieur Hulot, along with a host of other lost souls, into a bafflingly modernist
THE CHARACTER OF MONSIEUR HULOT
Tati introduced his most enduring character, the near-silent and bumbling Monsieur Hulot in 1953 with Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday. Tati’s unfussy plot decisions simply constructed the necessary unfamiliar environment within which Hulot could be best placed to act as the comedy stooge in relation to the strangeness that surrounded him.
In Playtime, Hulot is a passenger ambling through a fully modernised
Jacques Tati was born in Le Pecq in 1907 as Jacques Tatischeff, the son of a Russian father and a Dutch mother. He once said famously that he endeavoured to produce films that would make people smile. On reflection, his body of work proves that he went much further; subtly encouraging people to observe more intently and to think more astutely about social concerns through a gentle form of humour. As a filmmaker, Tati has recurring themes (the leisure class, modernisation, children at play, mass entertainment), and his compositions seem mathematically calculated yet spontaneous and vibrant.