Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Originally a mime, in the late 1930s Tati recorded some of his early sporting cameos on film with some success and thus began his career as a film-maker. His films have little dialogue or plot but are built around elaborate visual gags and careful sound design. In all his films, Tati plays the lead who with the exception of his first and last films is the gauche and socially inept Monsieur Hulot: who with his trademark raincoat,umbrella and pipe is among the most memorable comic characters in cinema. An important theme in Tati's work, most notably in Mon Oncle and Playtime , is the impracticality and ugliness of modern technology and design.
Tati's first major feature, Jour de Fête , is about a village postman who is influenced by a film shown at the village fair to go to extreme lengths to improve his mail deliveries.
His second film, Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot, introduces Hulot and follows his adventures at a French beach resort. It earned Tati an Oscar nomination (shared with Henri Marquet) for Best Screenplay.
Playtime , shot in 70 mm, was Tati's most daring and most expensive work; it took him nine years to complete and he had a modern city, dubbed Tativille, built on the outskirts of Paris. Narratively it had even less of a plot than his earlier films with a smaller role for the Monsieur Hulot character. The film follows Hulot and a group of tourists as they visit a modernist version of Paris. It failed commercially, leaving Tati in substantial debt.
Tati made two more films with far more modest budgets: Trafic which featured Mr Hulot as an automobile designer travelling to an auto-show and Parade : a TV film about a circus. His final script Confusion, about television, was never produced.
Tati was voted the 46th greatest director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
- Jour de Fête (1949)
- Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953)
- Mon Oncle (1958)
- Playtime (1967)
- Trafic (1971)
- Parade (1974)
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