Auditorium DAMSLab > 16:45


Jean-Baptiste Péretié
Introduced by

Jean-Baptiste Péretié


Saturday 25/06/2022


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Jacques Tati needs no introduction, but is exactly the kind of “filmmaker who needs no introduction” whose work is worth revisiting repeatedly – through viewing, writing and now the increasingly popular format of television documentaries. Jean-Baptiste Péretié, whose previous films include profiles of Buster Keaton, Al Pacino and John Wayne, has efficiently captured the jazzy architecture of Tati’s universe in this fine introduction to a jolly genius.
An obsessive filmmaker – addicted to endless rehearsals, multiple takes, months of editing and mixing – Tati was a great documenter of his own work process, as the abundance of behind-the-scenes footage in this new documentary shows. (There’s even a surprising moment featuring Tati with André Bazin, one of his first champions.) The film begins with Tati’s 1958 trip to New York. Dressed as Monsieur Hulot, he walks down Broadway like a skittish king. Americanism, already the inspiration for The Big Day and My Uncle, would feed his imagination for Playtime, for which an entire mini-city called Tativille was built. Its construction – giving life to the greatest film ever – would also mark the demise of the man, cruelly abandoned by an industry in which artists are measured in cents and dimes. Shot in 70mm, Playtime was Tati’s Magritte-like magnum opus of bowler hats, metallic blue surfaces and confused souls. He even hid himself in the background and let his Bruegelian vision take over, with passersby becoming protagonists for a time, until the next potential ‘hero’ is discovered in the same frame. The failure of the film at the box office ruined Tati’s career, his finances and his health. Aware of the irredeemable loss, his final unfilmed script, called Confusion, was meant to open with the death of Hulot. But during his lifetime Tati was unable to free himself of the burden of his famous character, and after his passing it just became bigger.
A cinema of spontaneous combustions, Tati’s films look beyond the spotless façades of modern life and revealed the human soul through sheer movement and optical illusion, as no one else has done before or since.

 Ehsan Khoshbakht

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Jean-Baptiste Péretié. M.: Solveig Risacher. Mus.: Stéphane Lopez. Prod.: Corine Janin, Stéphane Millière per Gedeon Programmes, Les Films de Mon Oncle con France5, Ciné+, RTS. DCP. D.: 60’. Col.