M. Hulot's Holiday
Dir: Jaques Tati 1953
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 24th November, 2001
Jaques Tati (or Tatischeff to give him his real name) learnt his craft on the music-hall circuit in the 1930s. He was often seen this side of the channel with his famous tennis-player act (part of which is shown in tonight’s film). Tati always insisted on being in full charge of his material and performance and, though his output is relatively modest (6 features and 10 shorts), he is regarded as one of the master craftsmen of the silver screen.
This film is Tati’s second feature. It took over two years to make and stars almost the entire population of the seaside resort of Saint-Marc-sur-Mere. The director preferred using “real people” rather than actors for most of the supporting roles. The hotel was a real hotel - an artificial entrance was constructed for the filming and caused endless confusion amongst hotel guests and staff alike.
This is the first appearance of Tati’s chaotic and bumbling Monsieur Hulot. Tati’s acute observation and immaculate timing make him at once hilarious and sympathetic. The character enjoyed another three outings and earned his creator an Oscar in 1959.
Oddly for a film without words, there was great praise for the use of sound in “M.Hulot’s Holiday” - one critic called it “the greatest event in the history of sound film”