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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Video introduction by writer, director and performer Terry Jones
  • L'ťcole des facteurs, the 1947 short film directed by and starring Jacques Tati

Mon Oncle

2001 Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Jacques Tati
Starring: Jacques Tati
1958 | 116 Minutes | Licensor: Specta Films

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #111 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

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

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SYNOPSIS

Slapstick prevails when Jacques Tati's eccentric hero Monsieur Hulot is let loose in the ultramodern home of his brother-in-law, and in an antiseptic factory that manufactures plastic hose. Tati directs and stars in the second entry of the Hulot series, a delightful satire of mechanized living.

Forum members rate this film 7.8/10

 

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PICTURE

Criterion presents Jaque Tatiís Mon oncle in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this dual-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.

This colour transfer admittedly didnít exactly wow me over when I first saw it and looking at it again now it still doesnít. Itís fine enough and is most certainly very watchable but itís always looked a little lifeless to me despite how colourful the film is. Iíve always found everyone to look a little too pasty and there are certain sequences, like the home garden that marks a lot of the filmís settings, that I felt should be popping out more. This could be by design but even scenes with murkier brownish colours donít look properly saturated and it has a murky look overall.

The transfer also suffers from a few artifacts and there are moments where edge-enhancement is noticeable. While I canít say the image ever looks soft I also canít say detail is very strong as some sequences, specifically longer shots, look a little fuzzy.

Considering the visuals in the film the transfer could use a bit of a boost. As it stands itís watchable but unimpressive.

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

Unlike Criterionís DVD for M. Hulotís Holiday, which included an English dub, Mon oncle comes with only a French Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track. Itís actually a bit of a surprise coming off a bit robust if a little edgy. The track is clean, free of noise or distortion and presents fairly sharp dialogue.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Again, like M. Hulotís Holiday and the original DVD for Playtime Criterion includes very little in the way of supplements.

Again we get a Terry Jones introduction, a 5-minute piece where Jones talks about his first experience with the film. He expresses his initial disappointment with it but then suggests it has become his favourite and believes it may be because itís ďless charmingĒ and bleaker in the fact it takes place in a world where the character of Hulot doesnít belong (and the film suggests that Hulotís world will be gone at the end.) He talks a bit about the satire against ďstatusĒ and the modern world and of course breaks down gags he likes. Itís a shame he couldnít provide a commentary because he offers a great analysis of the film, though maybe him breaking down every gag in the film would be a bit much.

And like the other first round Hulot titles from Criterion we get a short film, this time a 15-minute 1947 film called Líecole des facteurs directed by and starring Jacques Tati. Itís another charming piece of physical comedy, showing off Tatiís natural talent. The plot features Tati as a postman (possibly the same that would appear in Jour de fÍte, though I donít know for sure) going out on his rounds after finishing a sort of crash course on what it takes to be a postman. Again itís a charming piece and Iím glad Criterion chose to include it. The quality of it varies, looking rather good at first, but it seems to deteriorate as the film progresses. Sound quality also leaves a bit to be desired.

And the release includes an essay on the film by Matt Zoller Seitz going over the satirical elements against the modern world found in the film.

Like with M. Hulotís Holiday Iím disappointed more wasnít rounded up about the Hulot character and Tatiís career (though future Tati releases would feature more) but what we get here is at least decent enough.

5/10

CLOSING

While I know a lot of people are more mesmerized by Playtime, Mon oncle is probably my favourite of the Tati films Iíve seen, though do find all of his Hulot films (even the less popular Trafic) quite charming. I was a tad disappointed with this release, though, more in the transfer department. Since Criterion revisited Playtime with a new transfer Iíd love to see them give this one another go at some point.


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