Jacques Tati

Jacques Tati is one of the most creative and audacious visionaries of all time, and has directed some of the most entertaining and charming comedies. And yet, his comedies aren’t necessarily full of absolute hilarity or laugh out loud gags. Tati brings us much more than that, giving us moments of nostalgia, memory, fondness and of good cheer. He presents to the audience a rare, odd, and amusing affection for people and of human nature. Jacques Tati’s brilliance in slapstick and physical comedy has prompted many fans and critics over the years to compare his work to the silent classics of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.  Tati delighted audiences with his first major film Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953), while charming audiences by introducing to the world the iconic accident prone character of Mr. Monsieur Hulot; played by none other than Jacques Tati himself. Monsieur Hulot is a tall gawky man who can be looked at as something as a comic Everyman. Critic Stanley Kauffmann observed the character as, “a creature of silhouettes. There is never a close-up of him, and his facial expressions count for little.” Hulot’s has several quirky physical mannerisms which include a tilted posture, aloof clumsiness, and loping walk. He is always extremely friendly to a fault, and is almost always seen wearing a hat and raincoat and smoking a long-stemmed pipe. He tends to curiously wander about while observing others, and somehow always finds a way to make an appearance throughout many of Tati’s films. His character is used most famously in 1958’s Mon Oncle; which was Tati’s first film in color. Mon Oncle deals with the ideas of the rise of technology and mechanical efficiency, which leads to several amusing moments. Tati loved the use of gadgets and machines which are supposedly made to make life smoother and more efficient, and instead makes things hopelessly complicated for several of the characters. With most of Tati films, sound effects are utilized to intensify comedic effect and they’ll be moments that will make you smile, and others that will make you chuckle. Hulot again appeared in Tati’s film Playtime (1967), except this time his role is much more minimal. Playtime is Tati’s greatest cinematic achievement and is a film which includes a cast of hundreds. During the production of the film, Playtime was the most expensive film in French history and Tati filmed it in 70mm and in ‘Tativille’ which was an enormous reproduced set of city streets, high-rise buildings, offices, an airline terminal and a traffic circle. And yet the film was a commercial failure which bankrupted Tati and costed him the ownership of his home, his business and all of his earlier films.

Jacques Tati
Jacques Tati Featured Films
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Articles and Essays on Jacques Tati

Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953)

Jacques Tati’s Mr. Hulot’s Holiday is one of the most charming and original comedies ever made. Critic Roger Ebert states, “It is not a comedy of hilarity but a comedy of memory, nostalgia, fondness and good cheer.” They’re some real funny moments in the film, but Mr. Hulot’s Holiday brings us much more than just […]


Playtime (1967)

Jacques Tati’s Playtime, is a beautiful film; playful and peculiar; a film unlike any other. It sets itself apart from any other movie before or after it and creates a unique universe similar to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (which Tati was a huge admirer of) and was Tati’s statement on his comic vision of the […]