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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English PCM Mono
  • French PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 7 Discs
FEATURES
  • New digital restorations of all seven short films: On demande une brute (1934), Gai dimanche (1935), Soigne ton gauche (1936), L'ťcole des facteurs (1946), Cours du soir (1967), Forza Bastia (1978), and Dťgustation maison (1978)
  • Two alternate versions of Jour de fÍte, a partly colorized 1964 version and the full-color 1995 rerelease version
  • Original 1953 theatrical release version of Monsieur Hulot's Holiday
  • My Uncle, the version of Mon oncle that director Jacques Tati created for English-language audiences
  • Introductions by actor and comedian Terry Jones to Monsieur Hulot's Holiday, Mon oncle, and PlayTime
  • Archival video and audio interviews with Tati
  • In the Footsteps of Monsieur Hulot, a 1989 documentary about Tati's beloved alter ego
  • Five visual essays and a classroom lecture by Tati expert Ste?phane Goudet
  • New interview with critic Michel Chion on Tati's sound design
  • "Jour de fÍte": In Search of the Lost Color, a 1988 documentary on the restoration of the film to Tati's original color vision
  • Once Upon a Time . . . "Mon oncle," a 2008 documentary on the making of the film
  • Everything Is Beautiful, a 2005 piece on the fashion, furniture, and architecture of Mon oncle
  • Selected-scene commentaries on PlayTime by Goudet, theater director Je?ro^me Deschamps, and critic Philip Kemp
  • Tativille, a documentary shot on the set of PlayTime
  • Beyond "PlayTime," a short 2002 documentary featuring on-set footage
  • "An Homage to Jacques Tati," a 1982 program featuring Tati friend and set designer Jacques Lagrange
  • Interview from 2006 with PlayTime script supervisor Sylvette Baudrot
  • Tati Story, a short biographical film from 2002
  • Alternate international soundtracks for Monsieur Hulot's Holiday and PlayTime
  • Trailers

The Complete Jacques Tati

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Jacques Tati
2014 | 600 Minutes | Licensor: Les Films de Mon Oncle

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $124.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #729
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: October 28, 2014
Review Date: November 16, 2014

Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca

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SYNOPSIS

Though he made only a handful of films, director, writer, and actor Jacques Tati ranks among the most beloved of all cinematic geniuses. With a background in music hall and mime performance, Tati steadily built an ever-more-ambitious movie career that ultimately raised sight-gag comedy to the level of high art. In the surrogate character of the sweet and bumbling, eternally umbrella-toting and pipe-smoking Monsieur Hulot, Tati invented a charming symbol of humanity lost in a relentlessly modernizing modern age. This set gathers his six hilarious features-Jour de fe^te, Monsieur Hulot's Holiday, Mon oncle, PlayTime, Trafic, and Parade-along with seven delightful Tati-related short films.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

The Criterion Collection presents the work of Jacques Tati in a new 7-disc box set, The Complete Jacques Tati, on Blu-ray. The set includes the films Jour de fÍte, Monsieur Hulotís Holiday, Mon oncle, PlayTime, Trafic, and Parade, each receiving a new 1080p/24hz high-definition transfer on their own dual-layer disc. PlayTime is presented in the aspect ratio of about 1.78:1 while the other films are all presented in 1.37:1.

The transfers across all of the films look superb, and each (where possible) delivers as filmic an experience as possible. Of the six PlayTime is the best looking one, significantly improving over Criterionís older Blu-ray edition. The image is clean and free of noise and distortion, delivering all of the intricate details in the filmís long shots, which make up most of the film. Colours donít look as cool as the old transfer, and artifacts noticeable in that transfer are now gone. The old transfer was fairly grainy, but here the grain is much finer (I suspect because the new master was made from the original 65mm negative), barely noticeable, but it is rendered nicely and delivers an incredibly clean image. It looks great.

Parade is probably the weakest looking one, but through no fault of anyone doing the transfer. A good chunk of the film was shot with video so the ultimately the best most of the film will look is as good as video will allow. These moments are laced with artifacts including ghosting and aliasing, and there is just no detail present: everything is fairly blurry. Colours admittedly do look nice, but they look too nice for video so I suspect theyíve been manipulated.

Thankfully not all of the film was shot on video and there are some 35mm and 16mm sequences. These moments look wonderful on their own, specifically the 35mm shots. These sequences deliver sharp, crisp details with rich textures and colours. The 16mm sequences are a bit grainier and the colours donít pop as much, but these sequences still look fairly sharp and are far better than the video.

The remaining films all lie somewhere in the middle. Detail is yet again very strong and the colours look to be nicely balanced in both Mon oncle and Trafic, while Jour de fÍte and Holiday deliver excellent black and white levels with strong contrast and tonal shifts. Jour de fÍte appears to come from multiple sources and because of this there are moments where the overall quality drops and the image becomes darker or blurrier. Damage is noticeable in places throughout each of the films but the restoration job has cleaned up most of it and nothing really ever sticks out in any of the films. In all they look good, only held back by their respective sources.

Detailed reviews for each title:
Jour de fÍte , Monsieur Hulotís Holiday, Mon oncle, PlayTime, Trafic, Parade

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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Jour de fÍte

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Jour de fÍte

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Jour de fÍte

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Monsieur Hulot's Holiday

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Monsieur Hulot's Holiday

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Monsieur Hulot's Holiday

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Mon oncle

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Mon oncle

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Mon oncle

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PlayTime

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PlayTime

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PlayTime

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Trafic

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Trafic

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Trafic

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Parade

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Parade

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Parade

AUDIO

PlayTime presents a 3.0 DTS-HD MA track while the other films present their audio in lossless PCM 1.0 mono. PlayTimeís track is the more dynamic of the bunch, with audio nicely spreading between the front three speakers. Of the films it probably has the most intricate sound design and every sharp detail is delivered perfectly, without any background noise or damage.

The mono tracks for the first three films are also pretty good, coming off clear enough, but age limits them. They deliver music and effects well, but theyíre certainly flat, and music can get a bit edgy when it shows up. Both Trafic and Parade come off less edgy and flat but are still limited in their range. Overall, though, the tracks are all very clean, free of noise and pops.

Detailed reviews for each title:
Jour de fÍte , Monsieur Hulotís Holiday, Mon oncle, PlayTime, Trafic, Parade

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion packs a lot of material over the sevens discs of this set, covering Tatiís career and life rather extensively, allowing the set to almost live up to the word Complete.

The first disc of the set presents the 1949 black-and-white version of Jour de fÍte as the main feature and this disc also presents a couple of alternate versions to the films, similar to what BFI did for their individual Blu-ray edition. First is the 1964 version of the film, which was put together for a festival that year. Tati had originally shot the film in colour, using an untested process that didnít pan out (thankfully he shot a black and white version as back-up) and he was never able to make prints of his colour version so this version was a sort of stop-gap. Using a rotoscope technique Tati inserts flourishes of colour, mostly thanks to the addition of a new character (whose sequences were filmed in 1964 or so), a painter visiting the town.

Though it looks a little better than the BFIís similar presentation (more clean-up and a bit sharper in places) it should be noted that this is not the same version found on the BFI release. The BFI presents the English language version of the film, which has the painterís narration in English and a few additional scene insertions. This French version pretty much drops the narration and a small number of these insertions that only make sense in the English version.

Criterion also includes the 1995 version of the film, which is a reconstruction of the colour version of the film. This is probably the feature that will most upset viewers. Admittedly itís interesting to see the colour version, and despite the rough nature of the process there are moments where the colours come out fairly well. Unfortunately, for reasons I canít figure out, Criterion has simply upscaled an older standard-definition presentation instead of using the newer, far, far better high-definition transfer used for the BFI edition. Itís true, the high-definition version found on the BFI release is not without its own issues because of the source: the ridiculous colour process, using a waffled textured film, leaves behind very fine grid patterns in the source that are clearly visible in high-definition, while bleeding and saturation are also problematic throughout. The process also seems to erase details, so areas of the frame can be blurry. So yes, the BFIís presentation has problems, but compared to what we get here itís the clear winner.

This standard-definition version obliterates even more detail (those grid lines are gone) and colours are also far weaker and smear that much more, and overall itís far more painful to watch in comparison to the BFIís. Yes the process really limits the image, and itís not hard to see why the Thomson-Color process never took off, but why Criterion would use this awful downgrade when there is a vastly superior high-definition version available is beyond me (Iím going to guess politics probably played into it, or that they were unable to licence the transfer). So for anybody who has the out-of-print BFI edition and were thinking of dumping it, I would hang onto it. Enormously disappointing.

(Not all that surprising to many Iím sure, audio for both versions is presented in Dolby Digital mono. Both are noticeably weaker than the track found on the 1949 version.)

Following these versions is a 1988 episode from the French television show Cinťma cinema, entitled Jour de fÍte: The Search for the Lost Color. The 30-minute episode is a rather fascinating document about the search for the colour version of the film (the location of which was known by Tatiís daughter, Sophie Tatischeff) and the long, grueling process that went into trying to figure out how the archaic Thomson-Color process worked (I knew a little about it before but actually seeing it here just shows how doomed it was, especially since it appears special projectors would have had to have been used.) This investigation is incredibly fascinating, but learning about the history of the process from various sources (including the head engineer, Mario Solima, and director of photography Jacques Mercanton, who doesnít hide his true feelings about the technology) probably proves to be the most fascinating element. Great addition.

Next is the lengthiest feature, a video essay by Stťphane Goudet entitled A LíAmericaine, running almost as long as the film itself at 81-minutes. This piece (in French with English subtitles) offers an overall examination in Tatiís development in style and gags over his career, but focuses most of its run time on how Tati developed his staging of gags between making the short film Líecole des facteurs and Jour de fÍte, which both not only feature the same Postman (played by Tati) but also feature a number of similar gags. Goudet offers many comparisons between the gags in each film and shows how Tati ďimprovedĒ upon them or ďfixedĒ them. He also points out similar gags in other films and how his set ups would get more sophisticated over time. He examines the various ďthemesĒ found in the gags, with a lot of focus on modern society and its desire to streamline things (and how the body just doesnít want to keep up), while also looking at the framing and Tatiís use of the standard aspect ratio, and then his use of sound in staging gags, like the bee sequence in the film. He offers some contextualization about the French film industry (which feared American films finally being let into the country after Germany banned them during the occupation), looks at the silent film stars that influenced Tati, goes over the Thomson-Color process in some detail, while also offering some notes on Jour de fÍteís actual production. Itís long but I felt it was justifiably so, covering a lot of ground on Tatiís general style. A decent primer for Tati newcomers.

The disc then closes with the filmís very unusual theatrical trailer: it opens with the horrors of war and states how audiences are tired of hearing about it.

The second disc houses the 1978 version of Monsieur Hulotís Holiday and then a number of supplements, nicely upgrading over Criterionís borderline barebones 2001 DVD edition. The supplements first start with a brief text note about the 1978 version of the film, which is then followed by the same introduction by Terry Jones found on the original DVD. 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 ďpoetryĒ behind them. Itís short, running only 3 and a half minutes, but worth viewing.

Next Criterion includes the original 100-minute 1953 version of the film. The version differs in a few surprising ways, particularly with another tennis court sequence that happens earlier on and then a slightly extended ending on a train. Thereís also some added dialogue scenes between some of the hotel guests, and the shark gag is of course shorter (for the 1978 version Tati shot an extended bit for this gag in response to the release of Jaws years earlier). The most obvious difference, though, is the filmís score, which is more subtle and not as prominent when it appears. For me this was probably the most disconcerting difference.

I think I do agree with a lot of the alterations Tati would make after seeing this version (with the hairstyle of the man in the extended shark sequence of the í78 version not really fitting with everything else admittedly), especially in cutting some of the extra dialogue. In his newer version dialogue is sparse and rarely plays that much of an importance in a scene (you donít really need to understand what is being said only that someone is saying something.) Some of the extra dialogue scenes in this film seem to focus more on the dialogue and I donít know if this works as well and it can throw off the rhythm, especially the ending.

Though itís a nice inclusion Criterion has, unfortunately, only included an upscaled standard-definition version of the film. This is especially disappointing since BFI actually included a high-definition presentation of this version on their own Blu-ray edition. Itís not terrible per se, nowhere near as ugly as the upscale for the Thomson-Color version of Jour de fÍte found on the respective Blu-ray in the set, but itís still not particularly good. Forgetting the fact that little to no restoration has been done (the print is littered with damage) the transfer is still fairly fuzzy, presenting some edge-enhancement, noise, and compression. Itís mediocre overall, the upscale coming off quite poor. Thereís no way anyone will confuse this for high-definition.

Composer and critic Michel Chion contributes a 32-minute interview on Tatiís sound design in his films. Itís a nicely thought out interview, Chion talking about how Tatiís use of sound is usually used to emphasize an uncomfortable silence of sorts (the sounds of objects actually make one notice that no one in a scene is talking for example) and how Tati focuses the sound to certain areas, never a wide area. He also uses it to juxtapose certain sequences: in Mon oncle, for example, the scenes in the modern areas of France present single, more focused noises, suggesting a colder atmosphere, while scenes in the older parts of Paris present more vocal noise, suggesting a warmer, more welcoming atmosphere. He also of course looks at his use of sound in constructing gags, particularly gags that use disjointedness between what weíre hearing and seeing, while then looking at how the sound design in his films evolved through his films, with Parade culminating with sounds from a live audience. He can veer off the topic here and there but overall I found Chionís observations insightful and entertaining.

The disc then closes with a rather wonderful 27-minute interview with Tati from a 1978 episode of the French program Cinť regards. In it he goes through scenes from his films and talks about the construction of them, the use of sound, why he used the film stock he used (like 70mm for PlayTime) and what his films were more-or-less about. He also shares a few funny anecdotes, like one where he recalls sitting with an audience viewing M. Hulotís Holiday.

The third disc contains Mon oncle, and like the previous disc it nicely upgrades over Criterionís previous DVD edition for the film. Criterion also includes Tatiís English version of the film, My Uncle, which Tati specifically made for English-speaking audiences since he apparently couldnít stand subtitles (they distracted from the visuals.) The BFI also includes this version on their Blu-ray release, and as I mentioned in the review for that disc this version is not simply just an English dub, but is rather a whole other version of the film. Not only is English spoken far more throughout the film (French still makes an appearance) but gags are edited or executed a little differently, and most of the signage or French text that appears in the original version has actually been replaced with English, meaning Tati shot the same sequences multiple times to cover the languages. Despite some of these differences the story is still the same, but the film runs 6-minutes shorter, and again I canít exactly say why.

With the BFI version I stated I would more than likely stick with the French version since itís the version Iím used to, but at least I felt like I had the option with that release. For many it will be easy to stick with the French version on this release because similar to what they did for the alternate versions of Jour de fÍte and M. Hulotís Holiday, My Uncle is not presented in high-definition: itís another upscale of a standard-definition transfer. Iím still not sure why they did this, especially since BFIís disc included a rather nice looking high-definition version, so obviously there is one available. But whatís worse is itís not even a decent upscale. The whole image is murky and soft, lacking much in definition. Though it may be interesting for many to view, itís a shame that Criterion doesnít see this version as a viable alternative, especially since Tati preferred his audiences to watch his films without subtitles. Really, what are you more than likely going to watch: the clean, filmic presentation of the French version or the soft, murky English version that looks like it came from a DVD circa 2001? Exactly.

Continuing on, Criterion includes another episode from the program A Film and its Era called Once Upon a TimeÖ Mon oncle. The program, which Criterion has grabbed material from for a couple of other releases, offers up a look at a particular filmís production, while also contextualizing it to the period it was filmed during and/or takes place in. Iíve been rather enjoying these and this one isnít any different. Through interviews with surviving friends, collaborators, and admirersówhich includes Pierre Etaix, Jean-Claude Carriere, David Lynch, and others, as well as archival interviews with Tati and Jacques Lagrangeówe get plenty of back story to the filmís production and a look at Tatiís style of humour and filmmaking. The segment also covers the hot political topics of the time and how they would have played into the development of the film, including Franceís housing projects. The program also gets various architects and designers to look at the house designs and discuss the influences and possible satire (one seems especially offended by the filmís architecture as he sees it as Tati making fun of peoplesí taste, somewhat missing the point that Tatiís aim was more at people who use these things to show off their ďstatusĒ). It runs 52-minutes and offers a great rundown on the film while nicely contextualizing it.

The next supplement is so far the most disappointing supplement in the set (though admittedly at the time of this writing Iím only through the features found up to Trafic), a collection of three featurettes grouped into one item called Everything is Beautiful. The segments are entitled ďLines, Signs, DesignsĒ (23-minutes), ďFashionĒ (20-minutes), and ďPlease Have a SeatĒ (9-minutes). They each look at a design element within the film, the first looking at the architecture, the second at the costumes, and the third at the furniture. Of the three I found the first the most interesting, as the filmmakers have various architects talk about the building designs found in the film, covering the possible influences, the satirical elements, possible political statements, and so on. The second segment does something similar, covering the design of the costumes and how they represent their characters, while the third is a somewhat goofy look at the furniture design. Not completely terrible but I donít think I would have missed them if they werenít included, especially since the architect segment proved the most fascinating yet this same angle was covered in the previous feature.

We then get another visual essay by Stťphane Goudet, this one running about 51-minutes and entitled Everythingís Connected. On each of the discs so far Goudet uses the respective film to go over a certain element in Tatiís work and with this one he covers the stylistic similarities between his films, like the use of geometry, the development and execution of gags, the use of space, sound, and so on. He also talks about how gags cross between films, with some being removed from one film only to be reused in another. A bit long but a decent companion to the other pieces by Goudet that appear throughout the set.

The disc then closes with an 8-minute clip from a 1977 episode of the French program 300 million díamis. The episode, entitled Le Hasard de Jacques Tati presents Tati talking about his dog, Hasard, and then segueing into a conversation about the dogs that appear in Mon oncle. It turns out he got them from a pound and Tati, not wanting to have to return there, ended up putting up an adoption ad that indicated the dogs were the same dogs that appeared in the film. Apparently they got a fairly big response.

PlayTime appears on the fourth disc. PlayTime is the only film in the set to have been released previously on Blu-ray by Criterion. At a glance it will appear that not everything on that edition is here, but Criterion has simply moved the missing features to other discs in the set, so technically nothing is missing from the prior release.

First up is a Terry Jones Introduction running 6-minutes. It is the same introduction that has appeared on every incarnation of the title from Criterion. He talks about his initial shock at seeing that the film was 70mm and just how wonderful the details were. He talks about the faux Hulots (one played by a friend of his) and the grand design of everything, and then again breaks down some gags. He also offers some background on the production (Tati constructed the set, dubbed ďTativille,Ē making this the most expensive French production at the time) which eventually bankrupted the director, the film being a financial failure, which Jones seems to blame on the film being fairly alienating. Itís a nice intro and Iím glad Criterion has carried it over all of their editions.

Criterion then includes a few ďselected scene audio commentariesĒ (commentaries that only play over certain sections of the film) starting with the same one they used for their previous 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray editions featuring Philip Kemp. Itís an okay track, a little dry. Kemp talks about the troubled production of course and the Hulot character (and a bit about Tati), but throughout he mainly focuses on the look and design of the film, the sets, and describing some of the subtle details found throughout, even breaking down some gags somewhat. He also has gathered some information from various people who worked on the film. I liked it overall but must admit Iím glad itís actually a fragmented track because Kemp can be a little dry in his presentation. The track has been divided into 7 chapters. (And as I discovered a while ago it is actually just an edit job of a track recorded for the BFI.)

Stťphane Goudet provides a short 13-minute select scene commentary focusing on the cubicle chase and the apartment sequence midway through. Goudet examines the unraveling of the sequences along with the placement and framing. Jerome Deschamps then provides a 13-minute one that plays over four sequences where he also examines a how the scenes are composed and the gags are executed, while also admiring the work of a few of that actors that appear.

ĒTativilleĒ presents a 26-minute BBC episode filmed on location during the making of PlayTime. Here we see the famous set and get a better idea of its construction (a lot of the illusion of the city is destroyed once you view this) and also get plenty of behind-the-scenes material featuring Tati directing, and a number of interviews with cast and crew on what itís like to work with the director. The best part, though, proves to be an engaging 1-on-1 interview with the director during the last third where he talks about his visuals, use of sound, music, his humour, and gauging audience reactions. Itís another solid addition.

Beyond ďPlaytimeĒ (called Au delŗ de ďPlaytimeĒ on the previous DVD and Blu-ray editions) is a short 6-minute film covering the production, using behind-the-scenes footage shot during the making of the film and narrated by Stťphane Goudet, who also reads from notes made by Tati. Itís a shame itís so short but it manages to cover the troubled production fairly well from inception to its initial failure thanks to the American distributor refusing to handle it (and the film was apparently meant more for the American market) and also provides footage showing the sets as theyíre being built (and then destroyed.) Short but to the point.

Also new to this edition is another visual essay by Stťphane Goudet entitled Like Home, which runs 19-minutes. Here he simply looks at the visual structure of the film, the geometry of the setting and how people move through it, as well as the structure of the ďstoryĒ. He also talks about the general ďsamenessĒ that can be found in the sets and possible political statements, like the obvious divide of the classes.

Next is a 12-minute interview with Sylvette Baudrot who reflects on PlayTime, talking about Tatiís attention to detail, the hard work that went into many sequences (a scene involving a man walking down a hallway apparently took 3 days to shoot) and the fact that a lot of the metallic walls were actually enlarged photos of metal. Itís brief but itís a great piece pointing out a lot of things that in all honesty I had just never noticed before. Itís a rather fun interview for this reason.

Also carried over from the previous Blu-ray, Jacques Tati at the San Francisco Film Festival presents audio excerpts from the American premiere of PlayTime in 1972 where Tati held a discussion. Itís short, running almost 17-minutes (and divided into 4 chapters) and Tati answers some questions from members of the audience which range from the type of comedy on display in the film to the use of 70mm. Tati also talks about Hulot and his minimal appearance in the film and the filmís acceptance in Europe. While his English is a little rough here heís still an engaging subject and itís wonderful actually hearing the man talk about his film.

Disappointingly it still lacks material about the 151-minute version of the film, only mentioned in a few supplements. But despite this itís still the most impressive disc in the release.

While just about every film in this set receives a rich selection of supplements, Trafic, which is on the fifth disc, is just about overlooked. It has only one significant supplement, Jacques Tati in M. Hulotís WorkĒ, a 49-minute BBC piece from 1976, which was originally included as a feature on Criterionís PlayTime Blu-ray and 2-disc DVD. Itís a good piece featuring an interview with Tati that was taken at the Hotel de la Plage where M. Hulotís Holiday was filmed. The first bit of it focuses on comparing the hotel between the time period depicted in the film and as it is/was in 1976 (and today I believe itís still there but is now a Best Western) with the interview actually beginning 10-minutes or so in. Itís a rather charming interview, with Tati (more or less) dawning the Hulot character in sequences. In English he talks about his work, the character of Hulot, the art of comedy, PlayTime and modern France and its architecture (thereís a wonderful little moment where he points to a maquette of Hulotís home from Mon oncle and talks about how this older style of architecture has such life.) Itís a great interview piece and Tati makes a wonderful subject.

The disc then closes with the trailer. Unfortunately a couple of interviews found on the previous Criterion DVD edition donít appear anywhere in this set. The documentary found on the previous DVD on the other hand is still available in the set, found instead on the Blu-ray for Parade. Trafic is also the only film in the set not to receive some sort of visual essay.

The sixth disc presents Tatiís final feature-length film, Parade. The film actually gets a very specific feature in another of Stephanť Goudetís video essays, In the Ring, offering an analysis of the film. He goes over the development of the film and then Tatiís possible motives for doing it, with one of the main reasons probably being it was his homage, of sorts, to the dying art of vaudeville performances. He touches on the melancholy themes that can be found throughout then examines the various acts Tati performs, some of which he had developed some 40 years earlier with Goudet even reading from a late 30ís article about Tatiís acts. Goudet also talks about what Tati worked on after the film, including the soccer documentary Forza Bastia (which his daughter actually finished for him, and it is included on the seventh disc of this set) and Confusion, which Tati never got the chance to film. Itís a nice essay on Hulotís swan song and his late career as a whole. It runs about 28-minutes.

Criterion next includes the lengthy, two-part 1989 documentary In the Footsteps of Monsieur Hulot, which was included on Criterionís original, now discontinued DVD edition of Trafic prior. Directed by Tatiís daughter, Sophie Tatischeff, and running under 104-minutes total, it covers Tatiís career from his early films to his Hulot films and then finally Parade. Itís primarily made up of interview segments with Tati, his guest spots on other shows, and clips from Award shows. It also mixes in clips from his films, behind-the-scene segments (primarily from Playtime) and general footage. Divided into two parts it is extremely extensive and gives an excellent portrait of the man. In the interview segments Tati talks a lot about his films, discussing his themes, his techniques, and what his ultimate desire was (basically to make people smile,) along with how he observes things around him. These discussions alone make the documentary worth watching. My favourite segment would have to involve the making of PlayTime, a production Iíve been fascinated with after first seeing the film, but overall the documentary is quite strong and was a treat for me since admittedly I actually didnít know all that much about Tati (after making my way through this set that has certainly been resolved.) It concludes with Tati accepting a Cťsar díhonneur and expressing his support for short films, and then gives a glimpse at the restoration of the colour version of Jour de fÍte, which would have been in its early stages when this was made. An excellent documentary and Iím glad it did make its way to this set.

ĒAn Homage to Jacques TatiĒ features a 15-minute interview with Tatiís frequent collaborator Jacques Lagrange. Filmed for the French television program Magazine in 1982, Lagrange talks about how he first came to work with Tati, and talks in detail about his designs, particularly the design of the central house in Mon oncle, which he came under fire for from the architectural community. He also talks a bit about Tati himself, complementing him on his powers of observation, and even goes into a little detail about Confusion, the film Tati was planning for before his death. Itís a great little interview and nice way to close the disc.

The seventh dual-layer disc gets its own package and everything, and is title Tati Shorts. This disc features Tatiís short films along with a few other supplements.

Criterion first includes the short film On demande une brute, what appears to be Tatiís first acting role (not counting Tatiís first unfinished film, Oscar, champion de tennis, which I assume is now lost). The film, directed by Charles Barrois, features an incredibly young Tati as an actor who, pressured by his wife, tries out for what he understands to be the role of a wrestler, though it turns out heís actually expected to wrestle an actual champion. Though the actual wrestling sequence is interestingly done and even amusing, most of the gags early one rarely worked for me, seeming to be off a little in timing and fairly predictable. Tati, though, is the highlight, his movements and timing are on point and is probably why the wrestling sequence is the best moment in the film. It runs about 25-minutes.

Following this is Gai dimanche, which stars Tati and his friend, the clown known simply as Rhum, as two homeless buddies who scam a car rental so they can charge people for picnic tours. Directed by Jacques Berr the early portion builds up some promise with a few good gags but doesnít hold up during the last half. The film actually does some decent sound gags and Goudet seemed to have suggested in one of his essays that this was probably the work of Tati, who would of create a number of gags built off of the mix of sound and visuals.

Next is the 12-minutel 1936 short film Soigne ton gauche (which I think roughly translates to Mind Your Left) directed by Renť Clement and starring a young Jacques Tati. Itís a rather amusing physical comedy that finds Tatiís character inadvertently training to become a boxer (literally reading from a ďhow-toĒ booklet as he fights.) Compared to the other films it better displays Tatiís early knack for physical comedy and is quite charming with a few decent laughs.

We then get Tatiís directorial debut (again, not counting the unfinished Oscar, champion de tennis), Líecole des facteurs (basically Postman School), a 1947 film running about 16-minutes. The plot features Tati as a postman (who would appear again in Jour de fÍte) going out on his rounds after finishing a sort of crash course on what it takes to be a postman. A lot of gags in here would reappear in Jour de fÍte, though tweaked a bit. Some would work better in that future film but this one still nicely showcases Tatiís early talent in developing his gags.

Cours du Soir, made around the same time as PlayTime in 1967, even reusing some of the sets, comes next. Directed by Nicolas Rybowski and starring Tati it features him teaching a class on the subtleties of physical humour, and some of the humour found in here involves the students not being so good at it. I found it maybe a little too long but it works best as a sort of retrospective of Tatiís career, recalling some of his more popular moments (his postman even making an appearance, redoing the ďfacial expressionĒ bit). The short runs 28-minutes.

Dťgustation maison is next and is sort of the odd one out. Tati wasnít directly involved with but it does take place in the same town Jour de fÍte was filmed and was also directed by Tatiís daughter, Sophie Tatischeff. The 14-minute film takes place in small cafť where a slew of locals are gathering, all appearing to be after the same tart that is served there. Its humour is observational, close to her fatherís, and there are a few good bits (I particularly like how the mother has a cigarette hanging from her mouth while preparing the tarts), but the chuckles are few and after the initial charms of the film and its characters set in the film sort of spins its wheels for the last 8-minutes or so.

Most interesting, though, is the final short. Forza Bastia is a documentary covering a French-Dutch soccer game, though chooses to focus more on the fans and audience rather than the game itself. It captures the fans before the game starts and watches their excitement and disappointments during the game. Not only does it focus on the crowd in the stands but also watches the crowds gathered around television sets. Only some footage of the actual game has been inserted, and theyíre quick glimpses. The footage was actually shot by Tati in 1978 but wasnít put together until 2000 by his daughter. Whatís interesting is that the film doesnít differ too, too much from his other comedies. His films and their gags were simply built off of his observations of others and here he is basically showing what heís observed, and there are a few humourous ďnaturalĒ gags to be found in the process (audience heads all following the ball in unison for example). Itís an enjoyable short and nice way to close off Tatiís work. It runs 28-minutes.

All of the shorts are presented in high-definition and for the most part they look good. Brute looks worst in terms of damage, but itís still watchable. The rest are actually all fairly impressive, particularly Cours du soir.

The disc then closes off with a couple of special features. Stephanť Goudet provides another feature with Professor Goudetís Lessons, a 31-minute multi-screen presentation created for a Tati exhibition put together by the Cinematheque franÁaise. By the looks of it the actual presentation was delivered on six television monitors, with each screen delivering different content, either Goudet himself, clips from the various films heís talking about, or to aid in his own gag constructions. Itís been re-edited here for a single screen viewing, but at various times throughout we get split screens to show us the multiple monitors which feature objects or people interacting with objects or people in the other monitors (like a ball being passed along.) The set-up is actually rather fun, though itís a shame it wasnít presented as a multi-angle feature, which would have probably made complete sense here.

As to the content the piece is basically a generalization of everything Goudet covered in his other essays, going over the key elements in understanding and/or appreciating Tatiís work, such as his observations, use of sound, globalization, and so forth, mixing in interviews with other filmmakers including Wes Anderson, Michel Gondry, David Lynch, and Olivier Assayas. Though a lot of this material is covered elsewhere in the set, this still makes a great general overview, and some may want to go through it to get a glimpse of some commercials Tati directed for a diet pill brand (though they can be a bit cruel) and a final speech by Tati addressing the importance of the young having the resources to make short films.

Tati Story is a 20-minute program offering a biography of sorts for Tati. It is narrated in French by Goudet again and plays over archival photos and clips from various films, shorts and even his acceptance speech for his Cťsar díhonneur. Itís a decent short piece, quickly going through his early life and then film career and concluding with his death. Itís a decent short, though the longer documentary found on the Parade disc, In the Footsteps of Mr. Hulot offers more.

This closes the disc supplements. Criterion includes a nice 62-page booklet featuring a number of essays: James Quandt offers an overview of Tatiís life and work while Jonathan Rosenbaum offers a nice essay on Tatiís use of sound in his films. Kristin Ross focuses on Tatiís representation of the modern world and then David Cairns writes about Tatiís gags and how they were built. Overall itís a nice cap on the set.

In all we get a lot of material here, with some great scholarly content doing a fantastic job going over Tatiís style. Whatís disappointing is that it doesnít feel as complete as the title of the set would suggest. Interviews with Tati found on the old Trafic DVD are missing and the fact that Criterion has used standard-definition masters for some of the alternate versions are upsetting, especially when there are decent high-definition ones out there. But despite this the set is an excellent crash course into the films of Jacques Tati.

Detailed reviews for each title:
Jour de fÍte , Monsieur Hulotís Holiday, Mon oncle, PlayTime, Trafic, Parade

9/10

CLOSING

Despite a few short-comings (particularly the standard-definition transfers for the alternate versions of some of the films) this is fantastic set. The new high-definition transfers for the main features are all very stunning and the wealth of supplemental material is staggering. Criterion has still done a wonderful job and anyone who is a fan of Tatiís work or is looking into taking a dive into it, this set is must. Very highly recommended.


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