Saturday, 28 February 2009
The French are not renowned for their comedy but I always enjoyed watching Jaques Tati on his bicycle skooting round the villages and countryside getting into scrapes. Its very visual humour for the most part so no language barrier.
The short about the school for postmen. "L'Ecole des Facteurs "(1947)is one of the funniest black and white comedys Ive ever seen , on a parr with anything that Keaton, Chaplin or Laurel and Hardy ever did.
Mr Hulot's Holiday is a classic and full of great visual gags. The later films in colour too are wonderful. Mon Oncle and Traffic to name but two.
Discover more about Jaques Tati HERE.
"The Tatischeffs (also spelled Tatishchev) are a Russian noble family of Rurikid descent; Tati's paternal grandfather was Russia's ambassador to France. After a career as a professional rugby player, Tati found success as a mime in French music halls. In the late 1930s Tati recorded some of his early supporting cameos on film with some success and thus began his career as a filmmaker. One of his short films, L'École Des Facteurs (The School for Postmen) provided material for his first feature, Jour de fête. His films have little audible dialogue, but instead are built around elaborate, tightly-choreographed visual gags and carefully integrated sound effects. In all but his very last film, Tati plays the lead character, who - with the exception of his first and last films - is the gauche and socially inept Monsieur Hulot. With his trademark raincoat, umbrella and pipe, Hulot is among the most memorable comic characters in cinema. There exist several recurrent themes in Tati's comedic work, most notably in Mon Oncle, Playtime and Trafic: they include Western society's obsession with material goods, particularly American-style consumerism, the pressure-cooker environment of modern society, the superficiality of relationships among France's various social classes, and the cold and often impractical nature of space-age technology and design.
Tati's first major feature, Jour de fête (The Big Day), tells the story of an inept rural village postman who interrupts his duties to inspect the traveling fair that has come to town. Influenced by too much wine and a documentary on the rapidity of the American postal service, he goes to hilarious lengths to speed his mail deliveries aboard his bicycle. Tati filmed it in 1947 in the village where he found refuge from Nazi recruiters during the German occupation. Released in 1949, the film was intended to be the first French feature film shot in color; Tati simultaneously shot the film in black-and-white as an insurance policy. The newly developed Thomson color system proved impractical, as it could not deliver color prints; Jour de fête was therefore released only in black-and-white. Unlike his later films, it has many scenes with dialogue and offers a droll, affectionate view of life in rural France. The color version was restored by his daughter, Sophia Tatischeff, and released in 1995. The film won a prize at the Venice Film Festival."