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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Video introduction by writer, director and performer Terry Jones
  • René Clément's 1936 short film, Soigne ton gauche, starring Jacques Tati
  • Optional English language soundtrack, created by Jacques Tati

M. Hulot's Holiday

2001 Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Jacques Tati
Starring: Jacques Tati, Natalie Pascaud, Louis Perrault, Michele Rolla, Andre Dubois, Suzy Willy
1953 | 87 Minutes | Licensor: Specta Films

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #110 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: March 13, 2001
Review Date: July 12, 2009

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SYNOPSIS

Pipe-smoking Monsieur Hulot, Jacques Tati's endearing clown, takes a holiday at a seaside resort where his presence provokes one catastrophe after another. Tati's wildly funny satire of vacationers determined to enjoy themselves includes a series of precisely choreographed sight gags involving dogs, boats, and firecrackers. The first entry in the Hulot series is a masterpiece of gentle slapstick.

Forum members rate this film 7.7/10

 

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PICTURE

Criterion presents Jaque Tati’s M. Hulot’s Holiday in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-layer disc. This DVD was discontinued and unavailable for a short time but was re-released once Criterion was able obtain the rights again. For this review I am referencing the original disc but the new release is the same.

The black-and-white picture is about on par with Criterion’s transfers at the time presenting a consistently sharp image throughout. Contrast is excellent and gray levels are fairly distinct. There are some noticeable artifacts at time but nothing terrible. The print is in decent if unremarkable shape. There’s still some small scratches and some debris scattered about, and vertical lines are also present at times and there is pulsating and slight frame jumps, but as a whole I was rather surprised how good this actually looked. Quite nice.

6/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The DVD comes with two Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks, on French and one English. Of the two the French is the better one. The English one is a little harsher and distorted. The French track sounds cleaner and a bit more natural. The differences are rather obvious during the opening on the train platform. It’s actually odd Criterion bothered including the English dub since the film has very little in the way of dialogue, and what dialogue is spoken really doesn’t matter. But what’s even more bizarre is that Hulot’s dialogue is still in French. At any rate you have the choice but the French track is the better one, with more work having gone into it.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Unfortunately Criterion’s early Hulot releases had very little in the way of supplements (while Playtime would eventually be released as a 2-disc set its original DVD was a single-disc release.) Still the couple of supplements found on here are pretty nice treats.

First is a Terry Jones Introduction where the director talks about his admiration for this film and the Hulot films in general, pointing out some of the gags he admires and the beauty and “poetry” behind them. It’s short, running only 3 and a half minutes, but worth viewing.

And finally there is the 12-minute 1936 short film Soigne ton gauche (which I think roughly translates to Mind Your Left) directed by René Clement and starring a young Jacques Tati. It’s in worse shape than the main feature presenting a wide variety of print flaws but it’s still watchable. It’s a rather amusing physical comedy that finds Tati’s character inadvertently training to become a boxer (literally reading from a “how-to” booklet as he fights.) It displays Tati’s early knack for physical comedy and is quite charming, certainly a nice inclusion.

The release also comes with an insert featuring a short essay by David Ehrenstein touching on Tati’s brand of comedy.

With only about 16-minutes worth of supplements the release is maybe a little disappointing but what we did is altogether by intriguing and charming. Also it’s nice to get supplements when actually a lot of lower-tier Criterion releases had nothing in the way of supplements at the time this was originally released.

5/10

CLOSING

Not much in the way of supplements, only a couple of items, but the transfer is nice enough to make this title worth picking up if you’re an admirer of Tati’s and the Hulot films. Most Tati features would be found on later releases like Trafic and the 2-disc reissue of Playtime.


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