Revisiting Jacques Tati masterpiece “Playtime”

Revisiting Jacques Tati masterpiece


A delight to the eyes, 1967 “Playtime” from the acclaimed french director Jacques Tati, it’s an unique movie that satirizes modern day society The movie tells an uncomplicated story where the viewer follow Monsieur Hulot (a recurring character already used by Tati in two of his movies) played by Jacques Tati, that wonders around a high tech city of Paris coming across many different situations and complicated positions. The viewer sees it from different perspectives and camera angles and leading making it this way an almost interactive movie that can be watched several different times from different angles. It’s a movie made for the eye, the actors and extras play a perfect synchronized choreography of movements to go along with the urban set where it takes place, there isn’t too much talk because it implies that the viewer needs to observe the action almost as an outside voyeur, and every time there is something different to see, for this is not a movie to be watched only once and “never from the same seat position” said by Tati himself.  The movie is divided in six sequences:

-The Airport
-The Offices
-The Trade Exhibition
-The Apartments
-The Royal Garden
-The Carousel of Cars

Although the movie takes place in Paris it was actually never filmed in Paris, the investment on the movie was beyond the budget of what a movie produced in France would had cost back then, and as stated by Tati “the cost of building the set was no greater than what it would have cost to have hired Elizabeth Taylor or Sophia Loren for the leading role”

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The movie was shot in color but the sets were made it to appear monochromatic with the main colors being white,black and gray. Tati detested close-ups, considering them crude, and shot the movie in medium-format 70 mm film so that all the actors and their physical movements would be visible, even when they were in the far background of a group scene which became a reason for commercial failure of the movie, due to most of the theaters back then not possessing a 70mm film projector or stereophonic sound, Tati refused to provide a 35 mm version that could cover a bigger percentage of theaters back then.


“Playtime” turns 50 this year and it’s the prove that when you do something with passion featuring universal subjects without surrendering to the trends of the day, will become timeless and endure forever.

Origin: France-Italy
Released: 1967
Directed by: Jacques Tati
Starring: Barbara Dennek, Jacques Tati, Rita Maiden

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